Do We Know What God Looks Like?

Do We Know What God Looks Like? August 14, 2011

Some time ago, we at Patheos held a conversation on “What does God look like?”  Answers were supposed to be brief.  Since I’ve been more-than-a-little-swamped lately — I have about 5 posts three-quarters of the way finished — I thought I’d go ahead and share my response:

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I am a Christian because I believe the Creator God spoke to the world in the Word. Although God reveals Himself in a thousand ways, God gave Himself to the world — fully, salvifically, and most clearly — in the person of Jesus Christ. This is the doctrine of incarnation: we can have a personal relationship with God because God became a person among us.

For this reason, we do know, in a sense, what God looks like. “If you have seen me,” Jesus said, “you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Of course he did not mean a physical resemblance. There is an entire theological tradition in the Christian church (the apophatic tradition) devoted to deconstructing our human concepts of God. God is like a shield, yet God is not a shield. God is like a shepherd, yet our concept of a shepherd is too small. God is like a father, but is greater than any father we have ever known. One of the great theologians in that tradition, Dionysius the Areopagite, says that the one word that comes closest to a proper name for God is Love.

That seems right to me. God looks like love. God looks like the loving Christ who forgave the woman caught in adultery. Like the loving Christ giving himself for the world upon the cross. Like the loving Christ whom the grave could not contain. God looks like love — love that overflows and creates, love that cherishes and sustains, love that seeks and finds and redeems, love that gives itself with extravagant grace, love that sacrifices everything for the beloved, and love that is so much stronger than death that it brings life to the world.


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  • All you have described is what he has made in you and others who love him and love their fellow man.People that are overflowing with love for others and to help and feed those less fortunate that finds creative ways to sponsor or uplift another with their word of kindness and acceptance.Birthing a child bringing love into and life into the world through pain and suffering.We all are made in his image but we don’t see this because we hold the Lord God higher then life itself. Gods family are going to be the perfect image of him when he comes back and makes us all who believe just like he is.Almost hard to comprehend that some day we will be perfect like him,We are for now sinners saved by grace but tomorrow complete in his perfect presence beyond what we could ever imagine.Love is the key perfect love casteth out all fear and covers a multitude of sins. Blessings and Peace!

  • Tim

    Hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned, sick, stranger, crucified, buried, and risen.