Have you ever wondered what God is like? We see him portrayed exactly as he is in the face and life of Jesus (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus is the exact representation on earth of what God is in heaven. You see, no one had ever seen God (John 1:18), so no one knew what he was like. If Jesus is God through whom all things were created, and he came into this world, lived among us, but we never recognized who he actually is, then it is pretty safe to conclude that no one really knows God without knowing Jesus.
The Jews understood God as the Creator and the Lawgiver. Although there are many Scriptures in the Old Testament, which testify of the love and mercy of God, the Jews saw him pretty much as a disciplinarian, period. They proceeded to make up all sorts of unwritten laws (the Oral Law) for a hedge around the laws God had given through Moses, just so they would be kept from breaking those all-important laws. They presumed they had to go through all kinds of ceremonial washings just to approach God. Some sects of the Jews even carried it to extremes and excluded their own brethren from their social circles, simply because they didn’t adhere to certain cleansing laws in the home and before meals—all this, so they could approach God. Is God that picayune concerning our daily living? How about you? If your child gets all muddy while playing or really messy while eating and wants to hug or kiss you, do you push him away? Sure you will clean him up, but can he approach you like he is, or is his dirty face and hands taboo as far as expressing his love for you is concerned? I don’t mean to make light of others’ religious practices. I’m sure there was deep meaning behind it all, but it was, after all, ceremonial and should not have been used to exclude brethren or as a reason to believe the practitioner is any holier than his brother who is not so picayune about his life before God.
What about the nations around the Jews? Were they any better? No, in fact, they were much worse in their understanding. For the most part they believed that the activity of the gods resulted in what occurred here on earth. They believed our lives are an illusion and not the reality. Reality was where the gods lived, and the conflicts and struggles of the gods pretty much resulted in good and evil omens here. The nations believed, if they acted out what they would like the gods to do for them, then (if we are a shadow of what reality is supposed to be) the reality (gods) would be influenced to do as their shadow is doing. This resulted in religious sexual activity, because the nations believed when the gods made “love” heaven opened, and they received rain in due season. Worse, human sacrifice was used in times of particular need, presuming if the gods mourned, their tears would result in the needed rain their crops needed. They believed the gods had the same lusts and problems humans have. Is God like this? No, but who is to say, if Jesus didn’t come to show us what God is really like? Remember, no one really knew him—not the nations (gentiles) or the Jews. He came to live with us, and we crucified him, believing it was the appropriate thing to do!
What has changed? Have we grown in our understanding, and do we now really know who God is? No, have you noticed what our children are taught in schools? Tolerance isn’t a bad thing; God is very tolerant of us. However, the tolerance that is preached by the government isn’t that I should permit others the freedom to believe as they wish. The tolerance preached by the government is that we should accept all religious worldviews as valid points of view. In other words, there are many ways to God. If this is true, then Jesus had it wrong when he claimed: “No one comes to the Father but by me!”
Therefore, if I am to be “tolerant” as the government defines the word, I must reject Jesus—HIS worldview is the only unacceptable one! Yet, he came into this world in order to show us what God is truly like (John 1:18), but none of the nations believed him then (John 1:10-11), and none of them believes him now. As it was in Jesus’ day, so it is today—only those who believe he is who he claims to be (John 1:18), have any authority to claim to be God’s children. Only we who have come into his Light could say the darkness is removed—our ignorance about God is replaced with the glorious truth. The world continues in darkness to this very day. Why? It is because they love the darkness of their own imaginations (John 3:19). God is not who we imagine him to be. Jesus revealed who God is. If we don’t believe him, and he is who he claims to be, how is it possible for any of us to know God?