I recall some time ago speaking with an atheist who told me that they didn’t believe in God. When I asked why that was, they began with this description, “I don’t believe in a god who thinks women are on a lower footing than men. A god who also orders the genocide of innocent people, who is so easily offended that if you do what he doesn’t like he may torture you for eternity. I don’t believe in a god who hates people because of they don’t fit into his standard.” After listening for a while, I replied, “I don’t believe in that god either.

This person had likely heard or misunderstood what the God of heaven is like. The best example for anyone to understand God is Jesus. In John 1:18, we read that Jesus “has declared” God. Christ Himself said that whoever saw Him actually saw God (John 12:45; 14:9–11).

The Hebrew writer informs us that God chose to speak to humanity by His Son (Hebrews 1:2). Furthermore, the writer goes on, Jesus is the “express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3). If Jesus, being the voice of God and the express image of His person, can be looked to in order that we may fully understand God, then we must look upon Christ our Savior so that we can understand and not misconstrue God.

I realize that in the Old Testament we can also gain a great understanding of God, but we may be prone to misunderstand Him too only because in the Old Testament God always appears in marvelous manifestations of His glorified Person. In Jesus, God appears as a person, and we can understand people a lot better than we can the divine. Most early church theologians agree on this one point: because is God, He is incapable of being fully understood; otherwise, He wouldn’t be God. However, what we can best understand about Him is seen, first, in Jesus.

Jesus, after all, is the likeness of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). Christ had women disciples when other rabbis wouldn’t have. When one lady was brought before Him accused of adultery, He didn’t order her death, but that she go on and sin no more. Jesus would have rather died on the cross so that we can live eternally. If someone doesn’t fit His standard, He still loves them (cf. Romans 5:8), but doesn’t wish to leave any of us in our sins. This is the God I serve, Jesus (cf. John 20:28; Acts 8:59).

To Understand God, Look to Jesus: The Incarnational Paradigm