When I ask who is God what is your response? If I said God is _____ what goes into that blank? A.W. Tozer stated that what we believe about God is the most important thing in our lives. So what’s your answer?
Would we see Him as the Creator? That seems to be a popular response. But doesn’t this limit his actual being? What I mean is if he’s merely the creator then his existence hinges on something being created. Or in other words if someone asks who I am and my reply is that I am a pastor then what does that say? What happens when there is not a congregation? Does my existence merely disappear? If who I am hinges on what my vocation is then I am in for a big surprise during retirement.
What about Ruler? That is absolutely one that is typically heard. God is in control in whatever form or fashion and he is overarching King and Ruler. Well what about before he made things to rule? Does this not mean that his existence hinges on something to be ruled in order for Him to exist? Even Hitler referred to God as “Ruler” clearly highlighting the controlling aspect of divinity.
For us to know this we would practically have to be with God from before time even started to see this. Or at least have some type of witness who was there. Isn’t this a big question we always hear during Q&A sessions especially with youth? What was God doing before he created the world or angels? Have we not all wondered this? Typically there is some canned answer of mystery and “well I just don’t know”. But there was someone with God before and has a clear picture of God and tells us.
Well there’s this pretty important guy named Jesus who comes swooping in during the first century and makes some weighty claims. Did we ever notice that explicitly tells us what God was doing before the creation of the world? Check John to see that while praying for his disciples Jesus drops this gem into the prayer “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24 ESV).
Jesus first off frequently identifies as God as Father. He states that as who He is not merely what He does. Now one might contend “Ahh but that implies there must be a son!” Bingo! God the Father was loving God the Son “before the foundation of the world”. The implications of this are astounding!
Christianity is the only religion or even philosophy that can claim love as its overarching foundation and way of life. This is because from even before we were created that our God was in self giving love to another from all eternity! When Jesus says this about God this shows that everything the God does is essentially “fatherly”. He creates fatherly. He rules fatherly. He loves fatherly. He provides fatherly. He disciplines fatherly. His essence is of a love for another.
This is where we can truly say along with John again in 1 John 4:8 that if someone does not love others then they are not of God because He is love. Don’t get this twisted. Love is absolutely not God but God is in all that He does loving. Or in other words one virtue of love does not equate to deity in itself but is the characteristic of God that drives all of his other actions.
There is nothing more fascinating (in my opinion) than understanding this love of the Father. It is not merely a grandfatherly love that lets us do as we please nor a strange romantic love with “prom songs to Jesus” as Mark Driscoll states it. Rather this love is a strong love that seeks the welfare of others no matter what the cost. This drives us to love others individually as well as collectively in areas of injustice. The Holy Spirit literally births love insides of us (Romans 5:5) upon receiving salvation and why is that? Because as a child of God we reflect our Father who is altogether loving in every single area of life. He is the oft forgotten member yet He is the one who gives us this presence of love and is able to activate it in our life. He is not a sanctified form of “The Force” but rather a person through whom we access as we draw closer to God. Let us not live a life that is defined by any overarching principle if not that of sacrifical love to others.