James Meehan - What Do You Believe About God?
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So, who is God, really? What I want to do with the rest of our time is give you three pictures for who God is that I believe are more true of who God really is, and significantly more helpful for living a purposeful and meaningful life. So, who is God? God is, period. Like God simply is. God is existence, God is infinite, he's eternal, he's timeless. He is immaterial, he's literally outside of time and space. He is impossible for our finite minds to comprehend.
Now, I know when I say all that stuff it doesn't really make sense and it can be a little bit confusing, and that is absolutely true because God simply is. But check out this interaction between God and Moses that we can read about in Exodus. Here's what it says, it says that, "Moses said to God, 'Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you", and they ask me, "what is his name"? Then what shall I tell them?' God said to Moses, 'I am who I am.' This is what you are to say to the Israelites, 'I am has sent me to you.'" So when Moses asked God what his name was God said, "I am". "I am who I am". And just a quick grammar lesson for you, am is a form of be, which is also the same thing as is. So am is be. God is literally answering Moses by saying, "I simply am". "I am existence, I am being".
So who is God? God is. Later on in that same passage God says this to Moses, he says, "'This is my name forever, the name that you shall call me from generation to generation.'" God is saying that he is the God of every generation. That he's the same yesterday, today, and forever. God simply is. So who is God? God is. Eventually though, God gives us a better picture for who he is, a better way to understand him. So who is God? God is Jesus. Paul, in his letter to the Colossian church writes this in chapter one, verse 15, he says that, "Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation".
So two thousand years ago, God showed up in history. He showed up full of grace and full of truth. He showed up as the person of Jesus, the embodiment of love, literally love in a body, and he introduced a new way of being human, a new ethic, that helped us love people the same way that he has loved us. It was through Jesus that God showed us what love really looks like in person. One of my favorite things about being a Christian is the new ethic, the new way of being human, that Jesus introduced to the world two thousand years ago. An ethic that the world is still trying to catch up to, loving one another the same way that he has loved us, selflessly, unconditionally, and sacrificially. And that's not just something that Jesus talked about, he showed it by washing the feet of his disciples, by dying on a cross for you and for me.
And it was that ethic that made me want to believe in God again, because I met people who really loved God, and who really loved me. And even though I was skeptical of what they believed, I was jealous of the way that they treated each other and the way that they treated me. And it caused me to start questioning the things that I had thought I had answers for, started to get me to question why I didn't believe in God. And what I realized, is that the God I stopped believing in was not the same God that these people believed in. And what I realized is that God was so much bigger, better, and more beautiful than I ever imagined.
That what I was missing was the God as expressed and as revealed through Jesus. And maybe you find yourself in a place today where you're not sure what to do with what you believe about God. Because you stopped believing in God all together, but secretly you have a crush on Jesus, because of the way that he talked, and because of the way that he lived. Or maybe you're realizing that the version of God that you believe in is so much less than who God really is. The question becomes, what do you do? When you are holding on to a picture of God that is less than who God really is, where do you go from there? Here's what you do, you chose to identify those false beliefs that you have about God, and then you replace them with beliefs that are more true and helpful of who God really is.
Here's some questions to ask yourself, what false beliefs do you have about God? And how have those beliefs influenced the way that you view yourself, others, and the world? And then ask, how have those views affected the way that you live on a day-to-day basis? Because it absolutely affects what we do and how we live. What beliefs do you have about God that aren't true, and need to be replaced? And then once you've replaced those false views here's what you can do, you can start to see God as all the mystery and wonder that he is, as existence itself. And then you can start to see God as Jesus. As literally love, grace, and truth in human form, in the person of Jesus. So who is God? We've talked about the fact that God is. We've talked about God is Jesus. But I know there are many of us who, if we were asked to fill in the blank we would say that God is love.
Now where did that idea come from? Why is it that when we hear that and when we say that it just feels right? Well the secret is, is that idea came from one of Jesus' earliest followers, a guy named John who spent three years doing life with Jesus, learning from him and being one of his followers. And what's interesting is that at the end of his life John was writing a letter to the early church with some of the things that he had learned in his life, and the things that he had learned from Jesus. And we can read that in a letter that's in our Bibles today called first John. And what he writes is this, in chapter four he says, "Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for the love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love".
Why did John say that God is love? John said that God is love because he saw love in a body, he saw love in the person of Jesus, he saw love in action. And he knew that the picture of God that he saw in Jesus was true of who God is and it told this truth that we can grab onto today. That the overriding quality that makes God God is his love for you and his love for me, that God is love. He goes on to say though, in verse nine, that, "God showed us how much he loved us by sending his one and only son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him". God didn't just talk about love from heaven, he showed us love in person, the person of Jesus.
So who is God? God is, God is Jesus, and God is love. And when we have a better picture for who God is, it changes what we believe about everything. It shapes how we see everyone and everything. When we see that God is, we realize that God is bigger than our questions. When we see that God is Jesus, we understand that God wants to have a personal relationship with us and that we can relate to him. That he is full of grace, and he is full of truth. And when we understand that God is love we recognize the truth, that when we know God our lives will look different, because we will love others the same way that he has loved us, through his son Jesus. This is why it matters to understand who God is. Because what we believe about God shapes what we believe about everything, which shapes how we live. And if you want to live a meaningful life, have a better understanding of who God is. So who is God? God is, God is Jesus, and God is love. Let's pray:
Heavenly Father, I thank you so much for this time that we got to share today. I thank you that you reveal to us who you are. The fact that you simply are. You are existence, that you are Jesus, and that you are love. I pray right now that we would feel and understand the truth, that you love us deeply and that you want us to know you personally.
What I know is that there are many people who, maybe you would recognize today that the version of God that you've believed in, or that you stopped believing in, wasn't really God and you want to identify those false beliefs. You want to replace them with the truth of who God actually is, and you want God's help to do that. If that's you, would you simply life your hand so we can pray for you?
Heavenly Father, I thank you for those students that are saying they want to know you better. They want to know who you really are. They want to see you as you are, revealed through your word and revealed through your son Jesus. God I pray that you will give them wisdom to know who you are, and that you will give them the courage to live out the life that you have invited them to live.
Still in an attitude of prayer, with every head bowed and every eye closed. I know there are others of you who are here today that you don't know who God is. Maybe because you've never believed in God, or you stopped believing in God, but today you've realized that there's something that you've been missing. That false version of God that you chose not to believe in wasn't really God and the more that you're hearing about who God really is, you realize that that's what you've been missing, that more, that meaning, that purpose in your life. Here's the God news, is that God wants a relationship with you.
The problem though is that every single one of us, as human beings, we've sinned. We have done things that have hurt ourselves, others, and the heart of God, that has created a separation between us and God. But the good news is that God sent his son Jesus to die for you and to die for me, so that we could be made right with God, we could be forgiven of our sins. Jesus died on a cross for you and for me, but on the third day he was raised from the dead so that anybody who believes in him would be saved, would have eternal life with God forever. And if you're here today, and you realize that's what you've been missing, a relationship with Jesus, and you want to become a follower of him, then simply lift your hand right now.