August 20, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – John 14:8 (NRSV)
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
Philip asks a very human question. We have often given Philip a hard time about his petition: “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied” (John 14:8). What if we reframed Philip’s request? What if we found another way to ask this? What if Philip was simply asking: What is God like?
This passage is part of a series called the farewell addresses before the death of Jesus. Jesus knows that his time is coming and he begins to give his friends and followers his last words. He encourages his listeners that God is the architect of their forever home and he is going ahead to build this home. In fact, he tells them that he is the way, the truth and the life.
In response, Philip asks a very human question. We have often given Philip a hard time about his petition: “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied” (John 14:8). What if we reframed Philip’s request? What if we found another way to ask this? What if Philip was simply asking: What is God like?
In a recently published children’s book, What is GOD Like?, Rachel Held Evans and Matthew Paul Turner touched my soul with their own various interpretations of what God could be like. Utilizing biblical imagery with tender grace, artistic creativity, and joyful imagination, they show us that the Father is not just one thing, but inhabits God’s very own creation through stories, images, metaphors and analogies.
Here are some renditions of “What is God like?” that I believe would have definitely satisfied Philip’s curiosity:
God is like a river, constant and life giving. When you grow near God, you’ll sprout up strong as a tree.
God is like the flame of a candle, warm and inviting. With God close by, you can look to the light and see through the darkest of nights.
God is like a shepherd, brave and good, a protector who loves her sheep so much that she watches over all of them and knows each of their names by heart.
God is like three dancers, graceful and precise. They move to the same music in very different ways, showcasing all of God’s elegance and rhythm in your life.
God is like a best friend, faithful and true, closer to you than even your brothers or sisters.
And because we know what God is like, we know that…
God is kind. God is forgiving. God is slow to get angry. God is quick to be glad.
God is happy when you tell the truth and sad when things are unfair.
May we, with childlike curiosity, continue to ask God to show us what God is like.
What images in creation or biblical narratives resonate with you about what God is like?
Find a biblical image, an aspect of creation, or a person who reflects the face of God, and re-discover or refresh your idea of what God is like.
God our Father, help us to seek your face every day. Turn our hearts to you, Jesus, the perfect love of God reflected unto us in the face of Christ. Help us see you in the lovely breeze that brushes up against our face. Help us sense the warmth of your presence by a fire on a cold day. Help us remember the covering of your grace like a blanket on a rainy day. God, when our hearts become stagnant, may you re-ignite our love for you as we discover ways to re-encounter you, for you are all around us. We want to see your face. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Farewell Words: Upper Room Discourse (John 14-17)
Inés is an ordained pastor, preacher, reconciler, writer, and speaker. We are pleased to feature Inés as a regular Life for Leaders writer.
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“To love another person is to see the face of God.”
From Jean Valjean’s last song in Les Miserables
On an unusually stormy San Diego day in 2012, I met Rachel Held Evans at the Writer’s Symposium by the Sea at Point Loma Nazarene University. My college-aged daughter so enjoyed Rachel’s speaking and writing.
Rachel was absolutely lovely, and I am thrilled that we have this wise and wondrous children’s book as her gift to us as a final farewell from one gone too soon. If anyone would like to watch Rachel’s interview with Dr. Dean Nelson at the Writer’s Symposium, here is the link: https://www.ucsd.tv/shows/Point-Loma-Writers-An-Evening-with-Rachel-Held-Evans-23096
And Ines, I always enjoy your thoughts here at Life for Leaders. Many thanks for sharing such inspirational and essential thoughts with us!!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Inez, thank you for the devotional pieces that you write. I am am a Fuller 2002 DMin grad and I am concerned about “What is God like/” feminine references. I am concerned about “she” as a reference t ot God which is not biblical. I am open to further private yet respectful dialogue with you, if you are willing. Blessings, Rick