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He who takes my flesh for food and my blood for drink has eternal life.
John 6:54

Jesus did shockingly little didactic teaching. Though you wouldn’t know it from the logical, 3-point sermons dominating the Sunday morning landscape, He wasn’t really into laying out well-reasoned arguments and doctrinal statements. He’s blowing the minds of His hearers with statements like “the kingdom of Heaven is like a net” or “the kingdom of Heaven is like a secret store of wealth”.

Clear statements encapsulating truth? The Pharisees had those in abundance. They knew exactly what the law said. Then Jesus comes along and says things like, “The son of man is Lord of the Sabbath”. He was just messing things up – muddying the Pharisees’ clarity.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer… He is my shield and the horn of my salvation.
Psalm 18:2

I heard someone say once that the rest of the Bible is about finishing the sentence God starts in Exodus when He calls Himself the “I Am”. It gets finished a hundred different ways – explicitly or implied.

I am the Passover lamb.

I am the pillar of fire leading you through pitch blackness.

I am the warrior in the Promised Land.

I am the husband who takes a prostitute as His wife.

While our theology books are fond of using big words like “sovereign” and “omniscient” to define the indefinable, God seems to be fonder of a collage of images, pictures, analogies, and comparisons.

In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. John 1:1, 4

I don’t think we’ve completely cut out Biblical analogies when we talk about God in the West. We do tend to use definitions instead of analogies, though. You’re more likely to hear “God is good” rather than “God is a father who hurries to welcome the disgraceful, runaway son he should’ve disowned and shunned a long time ago”. We’re more comfortable with certain analogies – like God is a judge – over other ones – like God is a husband.

Since I began to explore expressions of my faith in South Asia, I’ve found a re-appreciation for some of the analogies of Scripture I overlooked before. Like that God is light. God is of all peace. God is living water.

I took for granted that with precise enough language or enough theology-text-book caveats, I could define God. That He could be captured with well-crafted words.

I was wrong.

To have found you and still be looking for you // It’s the soul’s paradox of love
It’s a beautiful song, we’ve only just begun to understand // Rediscovering you

Newsboys’ “Beautiful Sound”

God is like a diamond. Just when one facet of Him has dazzled you and awed you and you think – there He is, I’ve got it, He goes and says something crazy. He says, no, actually I am a God who remains silent for hundreds of years. I’m a God who rescues. I’m a God who sometimes doesn’t answer.

And then there’s another facet, another analogy, another picture. And the husband who turns his prostitute-wife over to her lusts and abusive lovers is the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep and is the destroyer of nations who is the suffering servant.

We do not understand, but in glimpses and catches. We discover and rediscover and frown in confusion, led on by the God who is shepherd, who is a lamp, who is guide.

Consider this the first in a series about “The God Who Is” exploring some of the analogies for God.
Other parts to this series are: The God Who Is Wind, The God Who Is Husband, and The God Who Is Savior