I went to church all my life, as well as Christian schools, and I swear until I was in my mid 30’s I thought we looked like God. In every picture I ever saw of him, he had two arms, two legs, and was old. He looked like us.
And the fact that Jesus was both God and a man, simply reinforces that idea, because he did look like us! It’s also true that God (or an angel of God) has taken on the form of a man, like when God visited with Abraham to discuss destroying Sodom and Gomorrah.
But God’s natural state is a spirit. “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:14. He doesn’t look like us and we don’t look like him.
Then what does it mean when the Bible says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27.
The Hebrew root of the Latin phrase for image of God –imago Dei– means image, shadow or likeness of God. At the very least this means humans occupy a higher place in the created order because we, and not animals are imprinted with godlike characteristics. Let’s talk about just a few of the characteristics of God, humans possess, but unlike God, we possess them imperfectly and to a far lesser degree.
I grew up attending a Christian school where we learned the attributes of God – what God was like. However, 75% of the young Christian men I mentor haven’t really thought much about how immense and amazing God really is and how very different from humans he is. But in other ways, because we were created in the image of God, we have much in common with God. (I’ll cover that subject in next week’s blog, What Does it Mean to be Created in the Image of God?)
So, I put together the following information about the attributes of God, to teach the men I mentor. Perhaps you too have a person you’re spiritually mentoring, or an older grandchild who ought to better understand, what God is like.
Written by Tom Cole – 2016
Father’s Day is this Sunday. I have found that when I ask a man about his father that it usually stirs a strong emotional response. For some that response is incredibly positive, and regrettably for others, that response is filled with pain and anger. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, I want to encourage you to reflect on your dad during the next week—what did you learn from him, what is your favorite memory, what do you admire most about him, and what do you think he struggled with, how did he describe his relationship with his father? Engage your friends in this discussion, and your friendship will deepen, as you learn more about each other.
I was blessed to have a wonderful dad. The older I get, and the more mistakes I make, the more I realize how fortunate I really was. I had the privilege of speaking at his memorial service over eight years ago, and I chose Philippians 2:1-4 to discuss his life. He taught by example, and his actions consistently demonstrated a concern for others, putting their interests ahead of his own. He loved his family with a tender and compassionate heart. He showed up and was always available. He was a loving and faithful husband, and I never heard him raise his voice at my mom. He valued relationships, and got along with everyone. In short, he was a great man, and I really miss him.
For the men in our community who have a strained relationship with a father that is still alive, I want to encourage you to take a step toward forgiveness and reconciliation. These steps are never easy, but they are usually fruitful. I have heard great stories from men that took the initiative to engage their dads in a discussion. This morning, I watched this message about conflict resolution and relationship restoration from Rick Warren. His talk provides very practical advice on how to have difficult conversations with others, and I strongly recommend that everyone take the time to watch this message.
For those in our community that are fathers, I want you to reflect on your role to date as a father—what have you done well, where have you fallen short, what messages and values have you taught your children, what can you do to be a more impactful dad, are you on track to leave the kind of legacy that you want to leave? One of our guys sent me the following quote today: “Inheritance is what we leave FOR others—legacy is what we leave IN others.” Talk to a friend this week about some things you want to do differently in the next year as a dad. We have tremendous impact in our roles as dads—let’s make sure we are all focused on maximizing the positive impact we can have on our children by saying and doing the right things, and making sure that they know that they are loved and that we are proud of them.
One thing I have experienced as a dad is a greater appreciation of the love of our Heavenly Father. While my three children are all unique, and at times they make better decisions than others (like me), my love for them, and my desire for them to find happiness, is relatively constant, regardless of the circumstances. I hurt when they hurt. I rejoice when they rejoice. I hope you find comfort this Father’s Day in knowing that our Heavenly Father adores you, and can fill the void from any shortfall created by earthly fathers.
I want to encourage you to make Father’s Day extra special for the Dad’s in your life. Write a note or have a special conversation to your dad that will draw you closer to him. Plan some one on one time together where possible. Reach out to others in our community and share your stories.
– Tom Cole
Every theologian throughout history has attempted to explain God’s decision-making process in granting salvation and man’s responsibility to receive it. Almost all end up in either Calvin’s camp, or Arminius’, with plenty of nuanced explanations within each.
Briefly, John Calvin believed salvation, start to finish was a sovereign act of God. God chooses those he wants to save, (election) makes them want to be saved (irresistible grace) and once they are saved, keeps them that way until they die, no matter what. (perseverance of the saints)
Jacob Arminius, a contemporary of Calvins’, believed humans had a lot more free will in this process. Humans could accept or reject God’s offer of salvation and once saved, could reject God or live such sinful lives that they could lose their salvation.
Each group comes fully armed to this theological debate with dozens of scripture passages that “prove” their position’s superiority over the others. Denominations and churches have split over these issues for centuries. But why?
Why is it we insist on having an explanation for the mind of God, on this matter at all?
Why not be content to leave what God does behind the curtain a mystery? Is there anywhere in scripture where God requires us to understand and explain accurately why he does, what he does, to grant salvation to any individual? And is there anywhere in the Bible, he calls us disobedient if we can’t explain how he does it? No!
However, what God has made clear, that both Calvin and Arminius loosely agree on, is what God requires for a person to be born again and therefore to be saved. So, what is man’s responsibility prior to, and after being granted salvation? That question is answerable.