Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” John 14:9-10
“I really enjoy your program,” writes a listener, “but when you talk about God as being personal, it is just a little too much for me. It seems to me that if God is personal, He’s responsible for much of the suffering in the world. Where was God in World War II and where is He when innocent children suffer in the hospital today?”
The issues that are raised in these comments have been on the minds of men and women, especially those who use their heads, for a long time, but to deny the personality of God is not really the answer, either, because you are then confronted with some bigger unanswered questions.
When I talk about God, I turn to the pages of Scripture, because nothing offers me finer, more substantial information than this as to the nature and personality of God. And very clearly the Bible ascribes personality and self consciousness to God. The Bible says that God has intellect, volition, and sensibilities. He has a will and a sense of justice. He makes decisions, pronouncing issues as good or evil, right or wrong. The Bible speaks of God using all the expressions that relate to human personality–He speaks; He sees; He hears; He becomes angry; He is jealous; He is compassionate; and many more. He has many of the emotions that you have: He loves, He hates, He is grieved, and so forth. Yet to acknowledge the personality of God is not to make Him responsible for all the evil in the world.
You may have heard about the conversion experiences of men such as C. S. Lewis, Professor of Medieval English at Cambridge University, Dr. C.E. Joad, psychology professor at the University of London, and Malcolm Muggeridge, the cynical editor of Punch who was converted and became a spokesman for Christianity. All of these were individuals who at one time were not far removed from the position that God, if He existed at all, was a disinterested spectator, ignoring the problems of humankind.
There is one important fact that individuals often overlook in their quest to sort out the intellectual wheat from the chaff. Often overlooked is what Jesus said about Himself and about God. In the last few hours of His life, Philip, one of the disciples, came to Jesus and said, “Show us the Father and we will be satisfied.” Jesus reproved him saying, “Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work” (John 14:9-10).
By the way, the question, “Where was God when so many Jews were killed in World War II?” reminded me of the time an angry young man asked me that question in Jerusalem. God was in the same place that He was when His own Son was taken outside the walls of Jerusalem and nailed to a tree. For the fact of God’s willingness to let Christ atone for the sins of mankind is an evidence of His love for humankind–for you.
Jesus said very plainly that if any man is willing to know of the doctrine or the teaching, whether it be of man or of God, he will know it (John 7:17). Jesus invites those who come with open, honest hearts to look to Him for answers. As David Elton Trueblood once said, “Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.” To discover who Jesus really is, begin with the Gospel of John and start reading for yourself. You will not be long in finding out.
Resource reading: John 17.