Mama, who is "God"? 

My four year old looks at me and asks this profound question loudly and with confidence - surely mama knows! 

A few years ago I would have trembled. I would have been so nervous to get this right. How can I possibly distill that question for a four year old? How can such a profound mystery begin to be articulated? Obviously I am not able to reveal who God is. Our advent scripture reading this week, John 1 tells us there is only One who can answer this.  

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning."

Echoing Genesis 1:1, the apostle John brings us back to the foundation of our knowledge of God - as creator. He then makes the astounding claim that Jesus is the Word with God in the beginning - and is God.

"By calling Jesus "the Word" John calls him the embodiment of all Gods revelation in Scriptures and thus declares that only those who accept Jesus honor the law fully." [1] John 1 is possibly the most dense piece of literature ever written, so I'm not going to do an exegetical study. 

Instead I will focus on the essence of the passage- God coming to us in Jesus.

Back to that question; I can't reveal the fullness of God to my little boy, but I can point to the One who can. The first time he asked me this question there was a long pause - to savor the moment and to gather myself! 

"That's a good question. Who can know God? How can we see God? He made everything! The whole earth! All the animals (I list some choice animals. It's a big part of a four year olds world, listing animals). He made me; he made you! God is so much bigger than us, so different. But you know what? God wants us to know him. He wants us to know what he thinks about and what he feels and how he works. So, he came to us, on earth. He came as a baby and grew into a man and taught us and showed us, so we could know what God is like. Do you know his name? The one who shows us God?" 

"Jesus!" He smiles and goes back to playing. 

Of course he will have more questions about who God is, this explanation is only meant to crack open the door - to point to the One who reveals the Father, the light of the world! All I'm saying to him is- if you want to know about God, look to Jesus. There you'll find the Truth of God revealed. This is the foundation of our Christian faith; Jesus is the Truth of God. And it's a different truth than one might expect.

Richard Rohr explains how Christ turns common ideas about God on their head. "In one sense or another all ancient religions felt we had to spill our blood to get to God. ...God couldn't possibly love me in my radical unworthiness... Jesus is turning around of all primal religion...Instead of us spilling our blood to get to God we have God spilling blood to get to us! Pray on that for a week, it's enough to transform you." [2]

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Do you know what Jesus wants to reveal to you is Grace and Truth? Do you know when his light shines on the darkest areas of your life, though it may be uncomfortable, it will wake you up to the abundant life Jesus talks about? His light is life.

Let's read that verse again, from the Message:

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighbourhood.
We saw the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like son,
generous inside and out.
(John 1:14- The Message)

This Advent season- we waited-and he came. He did the moving- he did the coming. He did the sacrificing. I encourage you this Christmas to make time to meet with God. He has shown us He is a God who wants to meet with us. Receive his grace and love today- as creation responds to creator, not having anything to give back except what is first given to you.

The song "Simple Gospel" by United Pursuit has been on my heart while writing this post.

Let's rejoice today in the most important knowledge we can possess- Our God loves us.


[1] Keener, Craig. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1993.

[2] Rohr, Richard. Feister, John. Hope Against Darkness- The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis of in an Age of Anxiety. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2001.

Emily Barry

Emily Barry is most often defined these days as mom of two little boys and wife to a medical student. Not long ago she studied English Literature in Victoria and travelled as much as she could. Camping, swimming and reading probably make her happiest, as well as friends, old and new!