The Name of God (4/4)
The Personhood of God
Knowing that God has a personal name, YHWH, and that it is possible for us to misrepresent him in the way we carry that name with us, we begin to see the personhood of God. He has a name and cares about how we treat it. He is conscious of who treats it well and who does not.
When we treat God’s name well, we are treating him well. We are honoring him. We honor him by the way we pay attention to him and try to live in accord with his righteous personhood. We try to become like him in everything we do.
This all seems very basic: if we love someone, we want to honor them and become more like them. But this is not something we consciously consider when it comes to the Supreme Deity. We often think of God as unapproachable, an inflexible rule setter, rigid and judgmental. When I was a boy, my mental image of God was one of a stern judge seated on a throne, with a book in one hand and a hammer in the other, ready to smash anyone whose name was not written in the book. This is an image stylized after my religious upbringing in Texas congregations of the Churches of Christ during the 1970’s. It has taken me a lifetime to surrender that image. Where our preaching is rigid and judgmental, our idea of the personhood of God follows that pattern.
The fact is, God is not unapproachable, nor is he rigid nor judgmental. God is righteous. That’s an important word. It means that his personhood has no blemish. He is constantly in a state of being right, and he requires that we be right, too. We see this as an immense burden and therefore interpret his righteousness as rigidity because we are incapable of measuring up to it. It requires more effort than we can give. This interpretation causes most of humanity to walk away from God in self-righteous despair, ignorance, or arrogance.
However, remember that God is a person…he knows. And he is righteous…he cares. He will never change, but he provides a way for us to measure up.
1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas *said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Get to know the person of God through Jesus the Messiah. May God bless you as you grow closer to him.