God as a Personality
WHAT IS GOD LIKE? Well, how does the Bible describe him? It does not picture him as an impersonal powerhouse or an abstract “higher principle,” but as an intelligent Person with feelings, likes and dislikes. Such a description is in harmony with sound logic. Why?
Perhaps you have stood under the starry heavens on a clear night, like the persons pictured on the next page. Have you not been impressed by the heavens’ grandeur and orderliness? Could you conclude that a mere impersonal force produced such splendid order by “blind chance”? Or is it the work of an intelligent mind?
A businessman’s reply when asked why he believed in an intelligent Creator provides a reasonable answer:
“It takes a girl in our factory about two days to learn how to put the 17 parts of a meat chopper together. It may be that these millions of worlds each with its separate orbit, all balanced so wonderfully in space—it may be that they just happened.
“It may be that by a billion years of tumbling about they finally arranged themselves. I don’t know, I am merely a plain manufacturer of cutlery. But this I do know, that you can shake the 17 parts of a meat chopper around in a washtub for the next 17 billion years and you’ll never have a meat chopper.”
Just as only a person with intelligence could arrange the parts of the meat chopper into a precision instrument, so, too, logic points to the conclusion that our highly organized universe could have been ordered only by an intelligent Person with awesome power at his disposal.
With this sensible conclusion, the Bible is in full agreement, for it says:
“Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one of them is missing.”—Isa. 40:26.
So by examining the heavens we begin to appreciate the truth of another comment about God in the Bible: “His invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable.”—Rom. 1:20.
A God of “Eternal Power”
By studying the majestic universe, one becomes aware of staggering power. Our sun generates a prodigious amount of energy. Yet one of the stars in the magnificent night sky, Arcturus, has a diameter 24 times that of our sun, making its volume 25,600 times as great as that of our sun! Still another star has a diameter 560 times that of the sun! Think what power they contain. And what power the Creator of these must have!
Some pinpoints of light are not single stars but whole clusters of stars. So vast is this universe that measurements are made in light-years (the distance that light traveling at 186,000 miles [300,000 kilometers] a second covers in a year, or about 6,000,000,000,000 miles [10,000,000,000,000 kilometers]). Some stars are actually billions of light-years away! With such bewildering facts in mind, one can well appreciate the viewpoint about God expressed in the Bible at Psalm 8:3, 4:
“When I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have prepared, what is mortal man that you keep him in mind, and the son of earthling man that you take care of him?”
Yes, how small and comparatively insignificant we become! Truthfully, God’s “eternal power” is “clearly seen from the world’s creation onward.” Yet, great power is not a personality trait that necessarily draws us to a person. But our perception of God’s qualities does not end here.
A Happy and Generous Creator
When you observe the playful antics of baby kittens or watch otters zipping down a mud slide and splashing into a pond, do you not discern something about their Maker? He must be a happy Person. Certainly a God that created a monkey must himself have a sense of humor. Consider, too, the spontaneous squeal of delight as a child gazes at a tiny baby chick! Surely our observations agree with the Bible’s description of the Creator as “the happy God.”—1 Tim. 1:11.
And what do you learn from the fact that the earth produces thousands of varieties of both nourishing and delicious foods, each with its own special taste to tantalize our taste buds? Does not such an abundance give evidence of a generous Creator? Instead of providing only the bare necessities for man, God delighted in making variety, and he caused it to produce in abundance.
“But what about those places where people are starving? Where is his generosity there?” some might ask. If a big-hearted father spread a luscious meal before all his children, with plenty for all, and several of the children grabbed most of the food, leaving the others with practically nothing, would the poor lot of these children be attributed to a lack of generosity on their father’s part? Well, researchers today report that one third of the earth’s population eats two thirds of the world’s food production.
Would there be enough for all if it were evenly distributed? One report on the subject stated:
“The world’s increasingly serious nutritional problem arises from uneven distribution of the food supply among countries, within countries, and among families with different levels of income. Global statistical surveys, based upon total food produced per person, suggest that there is no worldwide shortage of food in terms of quantity (calories) or quality (protein) at the moment.”—Report of the U.S. President’s Science Advisory Committee, The World Food Problem.
When man tills the earth properly, using suitable irrigation and farming methods, he is astonished at the earth’s ability to produce. Yes, this earth, including the seas, is just teeming with food of never-ending variety, besides the breathtaking beauty of countless types of flowers and blooming plants.
What does all of this testify to as to the Creator of these things? He is, indeed, a generous God, one who is, as the Bible says, able to “empty out upon [persons] a blessing until there is no more want.” He can ‘open his hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.’ And remember that he does it, not to get something tangible in return, but merely out of the riches of his generosity.—Mal. 3:10; Ps. 145:16; 50:9-13.
An Approachable God
To some persons, of course, a heavenly God of such greatness might appear distant, making it difficult for them to form a personal relationship with him. However, the Bible says of God that, “in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.”—Acts 17:27.
Rather than being a God hard to get close to, Jehovah God says: “I have let myself be searched for by those who has not asked for me. I have let myself be found by those who had not looked for me. I have said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that was not calling upon my name.” How entreating! He wants us to approach him and get close to him.—Isa. 65:1.
Back in the time when the Bible was being written, faithful worshipers of God talked or bore witness to others about him, acquainting persons with God’s name, Jehovah, and with his personality. (Isa. 43:12) God used such faithful ones to help other persons to approach him. He even dispatched his Son who came to earth and ‘explained God.’ The followers of this Son served as “substitutes for Christ” by talking to others about God, explaining what the Bible says of him. So today, Jehovah has his witnesses. They call on persons in their homes to talk to them about God. Rather than give their own philosophy, they show how the Bible depicts the Almighty. With their help sincere persons can really get to know God.—John 1:18; 2 Cor. 5:20.
They are helped to appreciate that the firm laws that govern the universe indicate that God is a precise Lawgiver. Such laws create order. The Bible reveals that Jehovah God has moral laws. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) He knows that these are for man’s good and he could force man to live by them. But, to the contrary, he created man a free moral agent.
Rather than force his rules on us, God’s Word says: “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve.” “I have put life and death before you, the blessing and the malediction; and you must choose life in order that you may keep alive, you and your offspring, by loving Jehovah your God, by listening to his voice and by sticking to him.”—Josh. 24:15; Deut. 30:19, 20.
Notice the verb “choose.” How could a person choose life if his fate is predestined, as some believe? Also, how could a person feel at ease approaching a God whom he conceives of as tormenting people eternally? But notice that the choice is between “life and death,” not between life and eternal torment. Such an endearing God would never fiendishly torture someone eternally. Yet, out of concern for his loyal subjects, he will destroy those that refuse to live by his righteous principles. He lovingly provides help so that we can learn those principles and live by them. Yes, the Creator is genuinely approachable. How refreshing to know that we can approach him, not because we feel we have to, but because we want to!—Ps. 145:20.
A Lovable God
What kind of person do you grow to love? Is it not likely one who has tender feelings, one who loves you and tries to show it in many unselfish ways, perhaps even making big sacrifices for your benefit? This is exactly the type of Person the Bible shows God to be. The fact that he is spoken of as ‘feeling hurt’ and being “pained” tells us that he has tender feelings and is intensely interested in others.—Ps. 78:38-41.
About 6,000 years ago a tragedy befell the human race that hurt all of us. Under the urgings of a spirit creature, Satan, who rebelled against God’s rule, our first parents disobeyed God’s stated law and incurred the penalty of death.—Gen. 3:1-19.
We, as their unborn offspring, inherited imperfection and death. Our heavenly Father could have justly allowed the whole human family to remain in this situation, eventually to die off—and be gone forever. What made him choose to do differently? Unselfish love! But what a high price he paid in this!
His law required an equal sacrifice to compensate for something lost. (Deut. 19:21) A perfect life (Adam’s) was lost. This necessitated that the life of someone not tainted by imperfection be sacrificed. Many spirit angels existed and any of these could have been asked, but not so. Because God loved us so much he sent “the one he was specially fond of,” “his loved one,” to the earth to become a man and then to die as the needed sacrifice to redeem mankind. (Prov. 8:30; Eph. 1:6) What a great sacrifice on God’s part, and how beneficial for us! What a lovable personality!
“He that does not love had not come to know God, because God is love. By this the love of God was made manifest in our case, because God sent forth his only-begotten Son into the world that we might gain life through him. The love is in this respect, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent forth his Son as a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins.”—1 John 4:8-10.
Certainly this is a God who deserves to be worshiped out of love. And that brings us back to Blaise Pascal’s “wager,” mentioned in the preceding article. That French thinker tried to convince skeptics by reasoning as follows: ‘Believe in God; you have nothing to lose. If he exists, all your fondest hopes will be fulfilled; if he does not exist, you will have lost nothing.’ But such is not the proper motive for serving God. Pascal’s “wager” is based on self-interest. He maintained that belief in God is good speculation. What are a few years of sacrifice in exchange for an eternity of bliss? Although his intentions were no doubt honorable, Pascal unwittingly endorsed the argument used by God’s chief enemy.
A case history recorded in the Bible (Job chapters 1 and 2) concerning a man of integrity in ancient times reveals that Satan contends that God’s creatures serve him out of self-interest, not out of love. Thus, by implication, Satan claims that Jehovah buys support for his rulership or sovereignty and that the latter is therefore tainted with bribery.* But Satan is wrong on both counts. Jehovah rules by love and his true worshipers choose to serve him out of unselfish love. For those who do lovingly serve him, he purposes a delightful future.—Ps. 84:10, 11; 110:3; Jas. 1:12.
Your Personal Relationship with God
After considering this information, do you feel the need to readjust your own concept of God? The Bible portrays God as a happy, generous, lovable Person. Despite his awesome power, he is still approachable. In fact, he invites us to get close to him. Is this not the kind of God with whom you would like to become better acquainted? There is much more about him in the Bible, and Jehovah’s Witnesses will be happy to point it out to you, free of charge.
Never worry about whether you are “good enough” to approach God. His Word says: “Jehovah is near to all those calling upon him, to all those who call upon him in trueness.” (Ps. 145:18) By calling on him in sincerity through prayer and growing in accurate knowledge of the Bible, you can learn his requirements and have the joy of living by them. You can really get to know God and thereby entertain the prospect of spending an eternity under the loving care of this Great Personality.—John 17:3.
For further information, see chapter 5. “Why Has God Allowed Suffering on Earth?” in the Watch Tower book Life Does Have a Purpose.
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The heavens speak of a God whose wisdom is far greater than ours.
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Creation tells us that God wants us to enjoy life.
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The productivity of the earth points to a generous God.