God is very different from us.

Humanity has many religions. Many views on God. Some figure there’s One, some figure there’s none, some figure there’s two (a good guy and a bad guy), some three or more, some figure the universe collectively is God, and some figure there may be gods out there but they’re not relevant to what we deal with as humans.

Yeah, the Unitarians and Baha’is are gonna insist all these differences are irrelevant, so let’s just focus on what we have in common and worship that Higher Power. These two religions were developed in Christian and Muslim cultures respectively, so they’ve got a lot of bias in favor of Abrahamic monotheism, but they’re flexible… and from every other religion’s point of view, too flexible. Each religion has a lot of non-negotiables. (Even Unitarians; ask ’em sometime if they’re willing to let an unrepentant Nazi join their church.) Each religion is pretty sure they understand God best. You’re not gonna see the Unitarians and Baha’is consolidate into one church anytime soon.

Why are all these religions so different? Dark Christians are gonna insist it’s because every other religion is an invention of the devil, or wannabe prophets whom the devil has managed to lead astray. All these religions are therefore the product of power-mad humans. And yeah, that’s partly true: A lot of religious founders were only trying to get themselves worshiped, or gain power, money, and sex. Any good intentions got corrupted by human depravity. Heck, that’s true of too many Christian churches as well.

But I would insist it’s because God is awfully hard to figure out.

I know; Christian claim God is really easy to get to know. All we gotta do is crack open a bible! Or have a conversation or two with him. Or something simple like that.

But if God really was just that easy to get to know, he wouldn’t need to reveal himself in so many different ways, at so many different times. And we wouldn’t have to work at getting to know him, at listening to him, at growing his fruit, at obeying Jesus. For that matter, Jesus wouldn’t’ve had to come to earth to explain him better.

God is hard to figure out, ’cause God is significantly different from us humans. Significantly. In ways which make getting to know him, not so easy. In ways which means we’re often not gonna figure him out. And we need to be okay with that and trust him. Problem is, people aren’t okay with that, because people don’t trust him… so they come up with their own explanations, and these evolve into new religions.

God has made efforts to bridge the gap between these significant differences, and us. If we make a little effort on our part (with his help; we can’t really do it unless he empowers us), we can bridge it wholly, and can get to know him. But not enough of us care to. Much easier to presume we have him figured out already—and never realize we’re wrong.

So let’s work at bridging that gap.

God’s unlimited nature.

Theologians typically love to highlight how God is different because God has superpowers. A big list of superpowers. He’s omniscient, omnipresent, omnivorous… and they love to define him by his superpowers. Mostly because humans covet power… and we skip right over the fact Jesus gave up all that power in order to become one of us and bridge that gap.

This fixation we have on God’s power is a problem… but I gotta admit the theologians aren’t wrong. God’s power does make him significantly different from us. God is an unlimited being. Whereas we humans are very limited creatures.

By unlimited I of course mean God has no limits. He can do anything he wants. Absolutely anything. He wanted to create the universe and did. If he wanted to create another universe to go right along with this one, he can. If he wanted to create infinite parallel universes (and some scientists are pretty sure he might have), he can. Just because we find it impossible to fathom—what’re the logistics of being a sovereign God over infinite universes?—doesn’t mean God can’t effortlessly do it. And I really do mean effortlessly. Because unlimited.

Now yes there are some things God won’t do, like sin. He has most definitely put limits on himself. He practices self-control, same as we should. He won’t lie, won’t break promises; these things are so foreign to his character that he’ll simply never do them.

As for logical paradoxes, like making a triangle with four sides: I suppose God is brilliant enough to figure out how to do such things in a way where they’re somehow not self-contradictory. If he wanted; it appears he currently doesn’t wanna. And why should he? Just to show off, and break our brains? Maybe; but he can show off just fine with all the non-paradoxical wonders of the universe.

While God can do anything he wishes, we humans are limited by resources, spacetime, power, will, and frequently other people’s opposition. God has no such boundaries. He can do whatever he sets his mind to. And why this makes him so very different, is we tend to define things by their limitations: What can they, or can’t they do? God really can’t be defined this way. He can do… anything. Really anything. The very small list of things he won’t do, isn’t big enough to draw a circle around and say, “That’s God.” In fact whenever we try to put boundaries on God, we’re gonna find ourselves wrong. He’s way bigger than our God-ideas!

Our usual God-ideas are all those Latin-based words which start with omni-, and even those words aren’t accurate enough. Like omnipotent; like I said, God puts limits on himself, so while he most certainly has the power to do absolutely anything, he won’t. Functionally he can’t. Saying “God can’t sin” is accurate. Saying, “God can sin if he really wanted to, but he never wants to,” is really saying the same thing, but longer and for no good reason. (Other than to make little kids worry, “But what if some day he wants to?” No, child, he never will. Relax.)

Same with the other omnis. We Christians teach that God is all-knowing, yet three times in Jeremiah he states certain sins never even crossed his mind. Jr 7.31, 19.5, 32.35 We teach God is everywhere, yet sometimes he says he’s not certain places. Dt 1.42 See, one of the things about being unlimited is God gets to decide in what ways he’ll limit himself. All we can truly say is, “God can… if he wants.” We have no business saying he won’t, or can’t, unless he himself says so. We have no business putting limits on God. After all, he’s God.

So this is one of the reasons God is hard to understand: We humans aren’t unlimited. Not only that: The more unlimited we become—the more power or money we get, the more we’re able to do whatever we please, the more corrupt we get. It’s a side effect of human depravity: Give us power, and you give our depravity power. Humans need limits! Otherwise we go wrong. God doesn’t.

So whenever humans try to imagine what God is like, by imagining what we’d be like if we had absolute godlike power… we actually become as unlike God as possible.

Yep. We’re not really capable, nor qualified, to fathom God’s unlimited nature. Not that we don’t try… but God would really rather we didn’t. He’s got another attribute he’d much rather we pay attention to, and duplicate as best we can.

God’s love.

Central to God’s nature and character is his love. It’s his most important attribute. It’s the one attribute we can share with God, if we abide in him and work on developing that fruit. But we don’t; not enough. Love, as God practices it, is such a foreign concept to humanity, it makes God a foreign concept to humanity—for God is love. 1Jn 4.8, 16

If you wanna know what love is, look at God. He can’t not love. He can’t act in any way which isn’t love. He is the source of all love.

And imagine how much our universe would suck if God weren’t love. He’d be just as capricious and petty as the gods get in other religions. He’d be just as vengeful and wrathful as the dark Christians claim, where they imagine him gleefully flinging billions of sinners into an angry gnashing hell without a second thought. We’d have no sense that God was on our side in anything, and have to beg and scrape and do absolutely whatever we could to get the slightest glimmer of hope of heaven. Sad to say, God has been described this way by most of humanity. But He’s not. He’s love.

It’s another hard concept to wrap our brains around, because we don’t understand the depths of God’s love. But unlike his unlimited nature, this is something we actually can understand. Something the Holy Spirit empowers us to understand. Something he wants us to understand—and do, same as he does. It only remains a vast difference between God and humanity, because we don’t make the effort to bridge this gap.

Like God’s power, we keep imagining what his love would look like if we were God… and we wind up confounding the power and the love, and getting some unholy weird combination of the two. Like we imagine if we were God, we’d “love” humanity by stopping natural disasters, or dreadful diseases, or bail people out of every rotten circumstance we got ourselves into. Nobody would ever die; every accident would reset; nobody would ever lose anything they wanted to keep. Because it’s what we figure we would do.

…Of course historically, people who were granted a lot of power to do all these things, haven’t. Haven’t even tried. Look at all these billionaires who don’t even support one hospital. ’Cause God is love, but humans certainly aren’t. God commands us to love one another, love our neighbors, and even love our enemies; and we don’t. Telling God he doesn’t love humanity enough, is kinda ridiculous coming from us.

So as you can see, God’s two most significant characteristics are two things that we humans don’t relate to. This is why it takes Jesus to explain God to us. Left on our own, to deduce what God is like based on nature and our own clever ideas, we invent a thousand religions, break ’em into a thousand sects apiece, then fight one another.