Reflecting God's Nature
by Contributing Author Ryan Reynolds
The whole earth is full of the glory of the Lord (Psalm 19). God has caused His nature to be stamped on creation. God’s glory is God Himself. When He reveals Himself, His glory is manifested. It is not hard for a person to look at the world and recognize that it was created with power, and, therefore, there is someone who holds ultimate power, omnipotent power. Louis Berkhof, a 20th century theologian, recognized this wonderful reality: “The world in general bears witness to the personality of God. In its whole fabric and constitution it reveals the clearest traces of infinite intelligence, of the deepest, highest and tenderness emotions, and of a will that is all-powerful.” The world testifies to God’s awesome creative power. It bears His image in a most remarkable way. We understand that this Being is like us, and we know this by reflecting certain characteristics of Him. We reflect, as does creation, His attributes.
Human beings have this image upon them to a greater degree. You can look at another human and feel love or kindness toward them. A rock cannot do this. A cow can’t show repentance for his sin. These virtues are not self-taught or conjured, but God has allowed them to come forth so that we reflect Him, and in which He receives all the praise. Believer and non-believer alike can show mercy and grace to another person; but for the Christian, who is being renewed after the image of their Creator (Eph. 4:24), they are able to show genuineness that comes from a transformed heart.
The family is no different. God made the family to reflect His nature. I am sure you have heard the analogy of the trinity: God is Father, Son, and Spirit; the family is father, mother, and child. We could take this too far, but you get my point. I find it interesting that in Ephesians right before Paul talks about the great mystery of man and wife becoming one, he exhorts the people to imitate God. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1 ESV). A family unit is no different; they are to imitate God and His ways. If this is lacking, the whole family will be lacking.
The family is no different. God made the family to reflect His nature. I am sure you have heard the analogy of the trinity: God is Father, Son, and Spirit; the family is father, mother, and child.
That is why I would like to take a moment to look at the attributes of God. How will this improve the home? A family is made to bring honor to Christ, and when we bring honor to Christ, we bring glory to God. But unfortunately we always start at the wrong place. We always want to start with ourselves and work up to God. We look at family issues and say, “We are a mess. We need to change this, this, and that.” We first focus on behavior while neglecting the real issue, the heart. The best way to fix behavior is to fix the heart. The best way to bring restoration back to a family is to look to God, and thereby exemplifying His ways.
So when we study God’s attributes, we study the nature of God, which makes our love for Him grow. We all want our love for God in Christ to grow, because we all want our families to reflect that love. A family is supposed to be a safe haven that is characterized by love. When that is missing, we are missing God’s objective for family fellowship and commitment. Instead of trying to fix the strife in the home by scolding a child that is misbehaving because she has a new boyfriend with tattoos, smokes, and is six years older than her, we should turn to understanding God and His nature, so that we can further reflect character that will handle each situation with care, wisdom, and prudence. The more a family understands the nature of God, the more they will want to love, serve, and obey to mirror His character.
The goodness of God falls under what we call His moral attributes. These attributes are communicated to His creatures; that is, we have the ability to express goodness to others. His goodness could be defined as: “He is in every way all that He as God should be, and therefore answers perfectly to the ideal expressed in the word ‘God’” (Berkhof). In other words, everything good you would expect to find in God is there, and it’s there to the highest degree. However, you don’t make up what is good and say God has it; the Bible declares to us what is good in God. God is the ideal idea of what God should be. His goodness is expressed in many different facets or categories. We will look at one facet of His goodness. His love.
The goodness of God falls under what we call His moral attributes. These attributes are communicated to His creatures; that is, we have the ability to express goodness to others. His goodness could be defined as: “He is in every way all that He as God should be, and therefore answers perfectly to the ideal expressed in the word ‘God’” (Berkhof).
The love of God is another way in which God expresses His goodness to His creatures. God loves for His own sake. He cannot find complete satisfaction when He loves His creatures, which is because of His absolute perfection. He is loving something that is less than perfect. How can a perfect love find complete satisfaction in something less than perfect? But believers receive a greater extent of His love, because He sees us as perfect in Christ. His love for us is rooted in His own love for Himself; and as we express His image while we are conformed to the image of Christ, that love comes at us to a greater degree. And God finds greater satisfaction in giving His love.
For instance, John can write, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1John 4:12 ESV). What he is saying is this. You haven’t personally seen God, no one has! But when you, as a believer, love one another, you are showing that God truly abides in you. You show that God exists by the love you reflect for His people. And when that happens, something marvelous takes place. His love is perfected in you.
In Greek, the word for perfected (τελειόω) can mean “made complete.” So when we love our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and in our own family, God’s love is made complete within us. His love comes to us to a greater degree than before; and we are able, therefore, to exemplify and express that love in a more joyous and genuine way. What could be a greater reality? What could be a greater privilege than to love our family and have God’s love realized in us to a more superior extent?
John goes on to say that God is love (1 John 4:16). This does not mean that God is a love; like God is only made up of love. We know that is not true, because we see that God is righteous (Ps. 116:5), holy (Rev. 15:4), just (Ezra 9:15), wrathful (Nahum 1:2), light (1 John 1:5), eternal (Ps. 90:2), merciful (Ex. 34:6), gracious (2 Chron. 30:9), and unchangeable (James 1:17). However, he does say that whoever abides in love is actually abiding in God: “and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1Jo 4:16 ESV). This has huge implications for the family.
The family that is seeking to honor Christ in all things should make it their aim to put God first in everything. They should look to God when making a family decision that involves serious consequences. Like whether they should stop their home building project in order to financially support their relative who only has a few years left to live. A family should be on their knees together when another family member is going through pain and suffering, seeking the face of God on how they should communicate to and love this person. What about when a family member is lost, on drugs, and living on the street? How do you help that person? What would be the wisest choice in order to bring repentance and faith to that wondering child? All these situations must be brought before the throne room of God. And all this is not accomplished without abiding in God. We must be abiding in God.
A family should be on their knees together when another family member is going through pain and suffering, seeking the face of God on how they should communicate to and love this person.
We must abide in love to abide in God. We must, therefore, know God’s love in order to abide rightly in true love. How do you know God’s love? We go to the Scriptures and study His great love. We mediate on what He has accomplished for us in Christ. We glory over these things. We study the attributes of God which tell us what we should reflect as persons being created more and more like Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18). The family is made to reflect God’s nature. May we reflect the nature of God’s love this month as we seek to bring glory to His name. May we pray with Paul that our family will “be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:18-19 ESV).
Ryan Reynolds was born in Houston, Texas and has spent most of his life residing in Houston and the surrounding suburban areas. He grew up in a tightly knit family of six who have encouraged and helped push him along his desired path of advancing God's kingdom.
In a powerful encounter with Jesus Christ through the Word of God, Ryan was graciously saved at the age of twenty-two. Since then he has made it his aim to thoroughly understand the Bible, so that he can help re-insert sound teaching into a culture that has lost sight of godliness.
Ryan is a third year student at Sangre de Cristo Seminary in Westcliffe, Colorado. He is studying for a Master of Divinity, which he hopes to attain after completion of an undergraduate degree in biblical studies.
You can also view highly informative programs in our media center by clicking below:
If you liked this article you might also like: