Who is God?
Take a moment and answer that question.
You put ten people in a coffee shop together and it is very likely that you will get 10 different answers to that question. Because often the question of who is God becomes a different question altogether, it becomes who is God to me, or how do I perceive God or God of my understanding.
Who is God to you?
Take a moment and answer that question.
Now, are those two questions the same question or different ones?
Let’s look at that. Think about someone you know well in your life and answer the same question. Who is______________?
I did this below with my wife.
Who is Shiloh?
I wonder how many different answers you have to that question. I say of course that she is simply the best thing in the whole, wide world and a gift from God. Obviously. But I’m also guessing that somewhere in your answers to your question, like me, you may have answered as well who that person is to you? Like I would say, Shiloh is my best friend, my wife and my partner in crime. Of course then, answering who is Shiloh and who is Shiloh to me also answers a part of the question of, who am I? I am her husband and her best friend. Who I am in part is determined by who Shiloh is.
But, for that to work, you and I have to know some things that are true about that person, about the independent reality of who they are, before we can say something true about who they are to us and then answer the question who am I.
Now, if I’m not wearing my glasses and I’m walking in the woods and everything looks the same, all blurry and fuzzy, and I go up to a tree and I think it’s Shiloh and I say that’s my wife! That of course wouldn’t be a true statement and because that’s not true then who I am saying that I am, (the tree’s husband) isn’t true either. To be able to say something accurately about who I am, I have to also be able to say something accurately about who Shiloh is by knowing Shiloh and letting Shiloh tell us she’s not a tree.
This is true of us in our limited, human relationships, these relationships that change and grow and are different. Like Jesus said that in heaven there is no giving or taking of wives or husbands, there is no marriage, because marriage is an earthly institution that God ordained for our mutual protection and love and to be a model of Jesus Christ’s love to each other and the world. In heaven, marriage is not necessary because in heaven we fully have and are safeguarded by the love of Jesus Christ together. So, in heaven, I may not be husband anymore but my relationship with Shiloh as Christian in God’s family in Jesus doesn’t change, ever.
But, this is why so often we feel lost and don’t know who we are or who we have become because we are defined by our relationships with each other and those relationships change and grow and are different. When one of those relationships change, even a relationship to a company, when going from employed to retired, or from working to not working, changes who we are and how we define ourselves. Or when those relationships are hurtful or have been hurtful this is how we so often see ourselves, as defined by that hurtful relationship.
This we can’t escape, we are defined by our relationships, even if we cut ourselves off from people, we are still defined by our lack of relationship. Unless our identities are always going to be in flux, changing and defined primarily by the relationships in our life, including the hurtful ones, the definition of primarily who we are has to go beyond our limited, changing and sinful relationships to an eternal relationship that doesn’t change.
That takes us back to, who is God? Notice, that just like my wife, I have to be able to say something true about who God is, so we can say something true about who I am and who I am to God and who God is to me. To say something true about God is we must learn to know God and we learn to know God by God telling us about who God is.
This is past Sunday in the church year was Holy Trinity Sunday, the day we celebrate in particular who God is by God telling us who God is.
God is eternal love and love always reaches out and is done in a relationship. So we learn that innermost mystery of God is the Trinity, loving relationship between Father, Son and Spirit, three persons but only one God. It is in this same internal, eternal relationship that God draws us into by creating us and all of creation, (Father) by coming to us in our form and making a way for us to be with God, (Jesus) and by the dwelling of the (Spirit) that brings us into relationship with and unites us within the Trinity and with all of God’s people in the eternal family of God’s love. God is love and love is always found in relationship, in family, and we are a part of God’s family in Jesus and will live eternally within the family of the Triune God.
This is who God is, known by God telling and showing us who God is. God is love and God is family, God’s family that transcends all barriers of race, age, culture, gender, time and space. All united by the love of God in Jesus and the giving of the Holy Spirit that brings us together.
Who is God? God is love. Eternal love that brings us into that eternal love by creating us, saving us and bringing us together into God’s love.
Who is God to me? God is my creator. My savior. The one who loves me and brings me into an eternal community to love and be loved forever.
Who am I? I am the recipient of God’s eternal love. I am beloved, cared for and valued highly. I am sinful and wanting to live apart from the love of God but I am saved and brought into that love through Jesus. I am a child of God and I live in the eternal family of God that will not change in this body, out of the body or in the resurrection. I am never alone.
But please understand, that if I don’t understand who God is then I will not understand who I am.
If I answer, who is God by saying, God is nothing. Then I will answer who is God to me by saying nothing. Then I will ultimately have to answer the question, who am I, by saying, I am nothing.
Or if I answer, who is God by saying, God is what I want God to be. Then I will have to answer the question who is God to me, by saying that God is a creation and figment of my own desires, fears and imagination. Then to answer the question, who am I? I have to answer I am nothing, there is no solid ground, I am always changing and will never know who I am.
But by knowing God I can say: God is love, God loves me, I am loved by God, forever. By knowing God I will always know who I am.