How do you finish that sentence?
God is remote.
God is unfair.
God is uncaring.
God is irrelevant.
God is indulgent.
God is absurd.
God is unknowable.
God is me.
God is dead.
A.W. Tozer said, “What we believe about God is the most important thing about us.”1
What you believe about God can make you
courageous or fearful
joyful or sad
spiritually energized or drained.
Yet most of us spend very little time really examining what we believe about God.
In fact, we humans often picture God as just a super-sized version of things here on earth. You might think it’s easy to spot this tendency in the handmade idols of ancient peoples because much of their god-imagery looks to us like giant warriors, or giant animals. Those idols obviously reflect their own time, their own fears, their own fashions. But are we any different?
I’ll admit it. At various times in my life I have imagined God as one of these modern idols:
God is a Galactic Grandpa. Worthy of respect, but not really relevant for today.
God is a Cosmic Cop. Aiming His sin radar gun at me just when I’m having fun. Waiting to bust me.
God is a Supernatural Slot Machine. I put in my prayers, pull the lever, and the results… well, they’re unpredictable. Sometimes I hit the jackpot. Mostly I’m disappointed. But I’ll keep trying, because you just never know.
God is a Frightening Father. You might see God as unpredictable, showing flashes of anger followed by torrents of generosity. So you’re always on guard. Uncertain. Untrusting.
God is a Big Blur. Like a massive abstract painting with an obscure meaning. He’s the Force, or a Feeling, or the First Cause. But He’s not personal. And He sure doesn’t care about me.
But I’ve found that the real God is far bigger, and far wilder, and far more exciting and powerful and comforting, than any of my preconceptions.
How do I think about God?
One of the most popular series PBS television ever did was called Searching for God in America. The producers interviewed people from all walks of life and put together a fascinating pastiche of religion in this country as they asked them one simple question: “What is God like?”
That’s precisely the question I’m asking in this book.
Only I’m not taking public opinion polls, as valuable as they can be as a barometer of religious trends. That’s because mere human opinion doesn’t get me much higher than human imagination. And thoughts about the actual God must by definition stagger the imagination.
So in this book I’ll be looking at a source that challenges and inspires me far beyond than my own preconceived ideas: The Bible.
It’s the best-selling book of all time. It’s the inspired Word of God. Yet it’s not very well known to most people today. Often it’s not really read as much as read into, used as a gimmick to prove whatever notions people bring to it. But I think you’ll find that what the Bible really teaches about God is very different than the caricature many people have of Christian theology.
A Mind Open to God
If you’re thinking, “been there, done that” let me encourage you to keep an open mind.
Are you open to the possibility, however slight you may imagine it to be, that you haven’t learned all there is to learn about God? That maybe — just maybe — some of the preconceived notions you have about the traditional biblical view of God are challenged by the Bible itself?
Then read on.
Enjoying the Greatest Mystery
This book is like unraveling a great mystery, the greatest mystery of all time: Who is God?
It’s a puzzle no human can ever fully solve of course, but every day you’ll discover another piece to add to the puzzle, see a new dot to connect to the other dots, so that you’ll slowly begin to discern an outline of the Beauty behind all other beauties, the Power behind all powers.
We’re not the first investigators. Each day in this study you and I will consider what ancient God-detectives, the theologians of the past, called attributes of God — truths about God’s nature and being. They are puzzle pieces: Pithy, powerful, poetic ways to describe the divine. And they are awesome. Mind-blowing.
And these clues are being left for us by God Himself. He wants to be caught.
What I Was Made For
What you discover about God will secure some of your secret hopes, surpass some of your wildest imaginings, and spin some of your own concepts sideways.
And you’ll find something else: The reason you exist.
When you discover more about God, you’ll feel something inside stirring, a resonance you may not have felt in a long while.
That’s what it feels like to be doing what you were made for.
As J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, said:
The chief purpose of life, for any one of us, is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do, as we say in Gloria in Excelsis: “We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.”2
So enjoy this journey further into the greatness of His splendor! You’ll be surprised and challenged and enlightened each day as you dare to finish this sentence: