Do you want to see a religious person freak out? Mention that you disagree with them about their understanding of the nature of God. It’s guaranteed; the person will freak, and call you a heathen, and worse. Why? Think about this, when you say “the nature of God” what do you mean? How are you defining “the nature of God?” What weight are you placing on what word, and how important is it to you in the long run?
When I hear “nature of God” I hear limitations; and to me God cannot be limited by human understanding. Let me explain. John Edwards once said that God created humanity, because God could do no other – it was God’s nature to create. I recently came across a denominations home page with the following “God’s nature is to love, because God can do nothing else but love.” I was confused by this. My confusion comes from the idea that, if God can do nothing else – is that not placing a limit on God? How can one say God is Omni-powerful, if God has a limit to power? If that were the case, wouldn’t that say, God is ruled by nature – be it God’s nature or another form of nature. If, and follow the logic, God could do “no other” but create (or love), God then is ruled by the “impulse” or “predetermined ability” to create (or love) and God is not absolute sovereign over all – because God could not control God’s own desire to create (or love) – sounds like God needs a 12 step program to overcome the impulse.
Do a google search on “the nature of God” (keep the quotes) and see what you get. I received “About 5,490,000 results (0.31 seconds)” (I love it when google gives me such clean numbers). Currently books fill the shelves with this catchy little concept – “What is the nature of God.” People pay to attend seminars led by people who change tons of cash so they can learn “the nature of God.” Baptists, Liberals, Conservatives, Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutheran, and Mormons and all the others claim to have the “true” nature of God understood. Not only do they claim they got it right, they also claim that all others got it wrong. They all define the nature of God based on their limited understanding of that nature. They insult each other, opening wounds that destroy relationships and they do so claiming the love of God. Why? I believe it comes from our limited understanding of God and how God’s nature fits in our lives.
You see, I believe God’s nature is (and I could be way off base) love, but not limited to love, understanding, acceptance, openness, willingness and concern. Now, I am going to withhold quoting scripture in this article, because I desire for us to see God in the totality of scripture and not one little line taken from the larger. I truly desire us to see God in total. for that to happen I need to refrain from any quoting.
God is love – but not limited to love. When we say “God is only love” we pervert the nature of God. I have a friend who believes in this thing called “tough love.” Now, tough love has no scriptural basis, none. Love is not tough, love is kind. Scripture says that God can love one and hate another. But you see, we have come to the conclusion that hate is the opposite of love and that is not the case. Hate is not the opposite of love; indifference is the opposite of love. You see, the devil does not hate, he is indifferent and God is not, and never will be, indifferent. But God is far more than love.
God is understanding – throughout the totality of scripture, and God’s recorded interaction with humanity, God has shown himself to be very understanding. God never condemned his followers without giving them an opportunity to “get right.” God has sent prophet after prophet after prophet; God has allowed for kings (even though he did not want them) and judges; God has forgiven because he understands the human heart.
God is accepting – this one ticks people off. It ticks them off so much that they create rules to close people off from God – but God accepts all who come to him and ask him in to their heart – everyone, without exception. Now, when you do and God accepts you (and he will accept you) you may need to make changes in your live. But that is between you and God, not between you and “Billy the bible thumper” down the road.
God is open – if God accepts everyone – absolutely everyone – God must be open. Because God is open we can go to him in prayer and seek to find his way. God allows us into his being. God encourages us to “come on in” and delve into his holy spirit. God’s arms are open wide, to welcome. love and embrace.
God is willing – God wants to do for us, he truly wants to do for us. Now, I am not talking the “prosperity gospel” where you “give to the church all you have and God magically gives you more money” – which by the way, you need to give to the church for more money – and the process never ends. I recently attend a service at a church a friend pastors. He had a “guest speaker” who was preaching such a gospel message. Interestingly enough, I found it to be more of an “infomercial” then a teaching – every time he hit a point, he plugged a book he wrote, or a pamphlet he had for sale in the back of the church. That is not what I mean when I say God is willing to give you what you need. Nowhere in scripture does God promise to make you a billionaire, he does promise to care for you if you let him.
God is concern – God cares for us and he is concerned about how we live, how we teach others about him and how we interact with him and others.
When people see you, do they see God? If you are a “child of God” do people see in you God’s nature? If you ask the average not-yet-believer to describe the nature of God, they would say – judgmental, closed, hurtful, non-caring and mean. Now, they did not describe God – they described those who follow God.