Online dating is risky. We imagine the person with whom we have connected, but rarely get it right. When we actually meet, it can be quite a shock. Believing in God is similar. The God of our imagination may be very different from the character and personality of the real God. This can be disillusioning, to say the least. I know a man who genuinely believed that God would never allow anything bad to happen to him. When tough times clobbered him, it was a real crisis for his faith. He told me he no longer believed in God. I suggested he consider if perhaps the God he no longer believed in was not the real God. This is a common problem. You frequently hear people say, “My God wouldn’t let that happen…” Understandable, since no one has ever seen God. Our relationship with Him is a bit like online dating.
Except for this: God sent His Son. A “son,” in first century Jewish thinking, was someone who embodied the character and personality of another person. Jesus called a couple of his disciples “Sons of Thunder,” because their personalities resembled rolling thunder. He spoke of how His followers might become “Sons of light,” might take on character traits of His “light.” To say Jesus was the “Son” of God was to say He was the embodiment of God’s character and personality.
As the author of Hebrews stated it,
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…” – (Hebrews 1:3a)
Jesus affirmed this. He said,
“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” – (John 14:10b)
Therefore, our belief in God will align with Who God really is, what He is really like, as we believe in Jesus. To put it another way, if we say we believe in God, but do not accept Jesus, then the God of our belief does not really match the character and personality of the True God. That is what Jesus meant by these words:
“Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.” – (John 12:44b-45)
If you believe in the real God, not merely an imaginary god, you believe in the One Who so loved the world so deeply that He sent Jesus, His Son. And, in your belief in Him, have attained eternal life. (Paraphrase of John 3:16)