“Jesus gives God a face,” writes Philip Yancey. “and that face is streaked with tears” (Reaching for the Invisible God, p. 139).
The personal God who walked and talked with man in the Garden of Eden had apparently vanished. Centuries later He revealed Himself again, this time to Abraham, and began anew to reestablish His presence on earth. Read the Old Testament and you will find God showing up on occasion … in a burning bush, in a pillar of fire, and in the middle of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace. But it was not until Jesus that God had a human face.
Were it not for Jesus, I must admit I would be an atheist. Creation gives me the hint of an intelligent designer but falls far short of proof. Jesus is the closest evidence I have that proves there is a God, and that He is active in our world. I believe in God because Jesus believed in God, and what I believe about God comes from what I learn of Him through the life and ministry of our Lord.
Islam highlights the majesty of God. “God is great” is a refrain that tells of a remote, sovereign, Almighty God, judging His followers according to their deeds. Christianity, however, portrays a loving God, a compassionate, forgiving deity who came to earth in the person of His Son. Jesus tells me of a God who cares, a God who stooped to become one like me, a God who walked in my shoes. Allah, The Great God of Islam, has become Abba, the daddy of the Christian faith.
But the coming of the Messiah not only taught us about God; it also taught God something about us. How could the sovereign God understand pain, uncertainty, and fear except as Jesus dealt with those issues during His sojourn on earth? God now understands what it means to be human.
I have been writing about Jesus Christ in this column, highlighting His life and the principles He lived by, all the time fearful my readers see these thoughts as little more than religious rhetoric. The challenge for me has been to convey the magnificence of God’s gift, the marvel of a new perspective on life that is available to us all through Jesus Christ. It is only in Him we can understand where we have come from, where we are going, and how to make tolerable the journey until we get there. Jesus makes the unapproachable God approachable, the invisible God visible. “In Him,” writes the Apostle Paul, “dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”
If you want to know the God with a face, a face that is streaked with tears … you must begin with Jesus Christ.