The great boogeyman? Almighty one? A fairy-tale figure? Creator of heaven and earth? The great absentee? A loving father? If you were to ask the question who is God to the public on a city street, you would hear a thousand and one different answers.
To quantify all of humanity as being different is an understatement. The perceptions of God vary wildly from person to person, faith to unbelief and culture to culture. Life experiences and upbringing are just the tip of the iceberg of the large sphere of personal influence to this question.
Is there a right answer?
Let's answer that question right away: does the answer exist? No! Unfortunately. God cannot be pigeonholed. You can't compare Him with anything. No human being on earth has the complete picture. Actually, God is like a disco ball. A big spinning and greatly dazzling disco ball.
God is the great creator
Let's start at the beginning - the literal beginning. God has always existed; long before the earth had been created. Christians believe that God made the universe and the world. He is the great creator - the intelligent designer. A supernatural designer who skillfully put together heaven and earth. Albert Einstein once said, "If this universe in its millionfold order and precision were the result of a blind coincidence, that would be as credible as when a printing plant explodes and all the printing letters end up back on the floor in the finished and flawless form of a dictionary."
For many scientists, the theory of evolution is not conclusive. After all, how can something come from nothing? And what about our DNA? The world hangs together from constant values of nature such as gravity and the dynamic core of the earth. A minuscule change and life on earth would not be possible. Check out National Geographic's 6 things that make life on earth possible. The world and also the human body are so complex - do you believe it is all a coincidence?
God is near
The creator of heaven and earth - that all sounds pretty far away.... Often people have an image of a God sitting up in heaven on a throne, angrily watching us all make a mess in the middle of his beautiful creation. Yet the Bible is full of stories of God being near people. He talks directly to people like the story of Moses.
His name is not YHWH for nothing - He Himself says, "I am here." In the here and now. So not only in the time of the Bible - right now Christians experience God very closely. They talk to Him and share their worries but also their joys. They do this by praying. And God doesn't just listen - he often answers.
God is a father
You can also look at God as a father. The Bible regularly refers to Him as a father figure. "Just as a father takes good care of his children, so He takes good care of those who are deeply in awe of Him." (Psalm 103:13). The New Testament is packed with references to Him as Father. Especially since Jesus is called the Son of God in the Bible.
But what kind of father? For many people, this is a sensitive subject; precisely because they have not had a loving father in their own lives. If you have had to deal with violence, abuse or absence - this clouds your view of God as a father. Your own experience with fathers, then, also determines your image of God.
You can look at God as a father who cares for his child, who wants to know what is on your mind and wants to get the best out of you. He enjoys spending time with you. He wants to teach you values so that you can stand firmly in your shoes, but also be ready to help others. Like any father here on earth - he can also get angry if you don't want to listen or do stupid things, because he wants to protect you. He also wants to be treated with respect. You are part of him and he is part of you. Connected forever. Want to talk through this or share your story? Our e-coaches are happy to listen.
God is love
Looking for the shortest answer to your question: who is God? Then the answer is: love. Unconditional love. A brief summary of the whole Bible.
In the Bible, the Greek word Agapè is used: a love that gives itself and is not out for its own benefit. The Bible book of John describes this love in detail. "Let us love one another. For love comes from God. We love God because He first loved us." Read more here.
One of the most widely read Bible texts is, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16). This love gives a different perspective on our lives. For His love is not limited to our life here on earth, but rather extends to life after death. He wants to be connected to us forever. This text also shows the role of Jesus. For we cannot talk about God without Jesus, and vice versa.
God is Jesus
If you really want to know God well, you need to look at Jesus. The New Testament describes his life, his sayings and his miracles in detail. In it you can see something of God's love for people. Jesus went toe to toe against the religious officials of the time. He advocated sincerity, justice and care for one another. Jesus is described as the son of God, so intimately connected. He had never come this close before. God put everything on the line to restore his relationship with people. Curious to know more about Jesus? Read more about his life and message here.
God is persistent
God may be the great creator of our world and want to be close to people. But do human beings want that too? In the Western world, it is sometimes theorized that God is dead, outdated and just made up to give people something to hold on to in life. But make no mistake about it, more than 32% of the world believes in the God of the Bible. A total of 84% of the world's population belongs to a religion in which God or gods play a role. It seems as though a God consciousness and desire is ingrained in man.
He never gives up. He is persistent. Even if people want nothing to do with him, or if they won't listen or even if they ridicule him - God always looks for a way to make the relationship right. In the Bible you read many stories of so-called prophets. They are sent out to tell people to live close to God. Often they are warned that a life without Him is dark and dead. One of the most famous prophets in the Bible may be Jonah.
This is also why Jesus plays such an important role in the Christian faith. The coming of Jesus turned the world upside down. God wants to show that he is near and how much he loves people. The death of Jesus on Good Friday is seen as a sacrifice. A sacrifice to make things right between God and people. But he is so much stronger than death. At Easter, Jesus comes back to life and from then on the proverbial bear is completely loose. His friends and witnesses can no longer keep their mouths shut and tell everyone, everywhere: Jesus is alive! God is love. He does everything to make people feel that he is there and that he loves them.
Yet he always leaves people the choice: do you want to get to know him or not? He cannot and will not force you. For no one can be forced to love. But God will not just give up - he wants everyone on earth to know that they are loved.
God is always the same
God does not change. He is always the same. Now, in the past and in the future. The God you read about in the Bible is still the same. "He remains the same always and forever. He never changes." James 1:17. When you read about healings it may seem like something of the past, but you will be amazed at how many people today say He healed them. When you read about a God who punishes, he is the same one who gets angry even today when there is injustice in this world. And if you read about a loving father, he is also looking for you today. Don't be tempted to think that the Bible is an old dusty book of the past. The stories about God are often very applicable to life today.
A constant throughout history
Of course, you have to remember that we read the Bible from a different zeitgeist, a different culture, and with our own experiences. Sometimes it seems that God is different now, but actually it is man who is constantly changing. Someone who always remains the same may sound boring or rigid. Yet above all it shows that God is trustworthy. His promise is that he will never abandon us, and no matter what we do, he will not change his mind. His desire for contact with us is a constant throughout history.