‘just exactly who is God’.
As I was preparing for this homily, I was thinking that we hear about Jesus and have a pretty good understanding of who He was and what his life, suffering and resurrection mean for us. And although the Holy Spirit is a bit of a mystery, we can accept that the Holy Spirit was breathed upon us to help us follow the teachings of Jesus. But it suddenly dawned on me that we never talk about who God is – probably the most important person – the creator of us all and everything that lives and breathes.
Little children often ask that question, ‘who is God?’, but by the time we reach adulthood, everyone assumes we know who God is – therefore no one talks about that. I think it is time for us to look at who we believe God to be and what God means to each one of us.
We hear in the story of creation in Genesis that the world and everything in it was created by God in only six days. Now, we don’t know what a ‘day’ was in the time before creation, but science has just proven that the earth is a little over 4.4 billion years old. So God, the creator, has been around for a very long time – since before the universe.
God is known by many different names; sometimes God is called ‘Lord’ – not in a political sense, but as a sign of ultimate respect.
Wikipedia defines ‘God’ as ‘the Supreme Being’, the principal object of faith and worship,’ all knowing’ (omniscient); ‘being every present everywhere’ (omnipresent); ‘having unlimited power’ (omnipotent) – after all, you would have to be pretty powerful to take nothing and make the world out of it – and ‘all-loving’ (omnibenevolent).
But, God has no gender. I have a bag that says ‘God is not a boy’s name’, which often causes a stir at some religious functions. But I believe, and theologians agree, that God is not a man, nor is God a woman as we often hear in feminist theology. The Bible says God is a spirit (John 4:24)—without physical form (not in a human body as we are). And, contrary to all the pictures we see of God, He is not a white man! God has no color, He is a spirit, formless – we normally see pictures of God as a white man because people needed something they could see. The picture we often see of God is an old man with a long white beard sitting on a cloud in the sky; the most famous of these depictions is on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican – most everyone has seen this fresco and associated God with that depiction.
And in love (1 John 4:16), God created us in His image as we read in Genesis 1:27:
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
What we do hear repeatedly in Scripture, and need to remember, is that we are all children of God, the same God, no matter what God is called. And we are all beloved children of God (1 John 3:2).
But that still doesn’t answer “Who is God?”
Let’s look at what the Bible says:
When Moses asked God who he was, God answered:
“I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14)
And later in Revelation 22:13:
“I am the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end”
In most faith traditions, God is the ultimate, the Supreme Being, the creator and sustainer of all living things, one to be worshipped.
Some of the things that we hear in the Bible about God is that he is:
just (Acts 17:31),
loving (Ephesians 2:4-5),
truthful (John 14:6), and
holy (1 John 1:5).
God shows compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3), mercy (Romans 9:15), and grace (Romans 5:17) to all his people. And although God may judge our behavior (Psalm 5:5), He always offers forgiveness (Psalm 130:4) – again and again as we stray from the right path.
God is a loving God. He cares about us; and always loves us, no matter what. And He sent Jesus down to help us learn how to live right. And by grace, even when we make mistakes, we are always forgiven. We know from the scriptures, that Jesus brought us eternal life, through his crucifixion and resurrection.
God is the ultimate Being in existence, perfect in power, love, and character. Since God wanted to share His love with others, He created people – us – spiritual creatures who can relate to Him. Because God is love, He wants us to love Him and love other people (Matthew 22:37-40).
That is the God that we know, who knows us and loves us, and the one we worship.
Let us pray:
Dear God, creator of our world and all that is in it, please grant us forgiveness when we don’t follow Jesus’ teachings, help us to remember that you created all people and we are commanded to love them as Jesus loved us. Help us to preserve your creation and live in love with all our brothers and sisters. Amen.
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; 18 June 2017