God’s Personality

We’re supposed to have a relationship with God, so he must have a personality, right? You can’t be friends with a force …

So what is he like?

I’ve been thinking about this. I know that for most of my life I don’t really operate as if God is a person, but he is, isn’t he?

I’m hoping others will come in with some ideas about what he’s like, and I’m going to set the ball rolling with something myself. Maybe:

God is Subtle

He doesn’t seem to like big miracles. Some examples are Jesus’ miracles, the manna in the desert, and in fact the resurrection. The moment of Jesus’ resurrection was not witnessed by anyone. They had to work it out from some fairly subtle signs left for them.

It just strikes me that God didn’t have to do it like this. Why did he?

There are a few examples of big, unsubtle miracles, especially the Red Sea. Why doesn’t God work like this all the time?

One slight answer might possibly be that God likes the way he’s made the world, and doesn’t like breaking the rules all the time.

What do you think?

Join the Conversation


  1. I feel like I should be able to post something in response to this. Have been thinking about it since the article arrived. But really can’t. Will keep thinking…

  2. Great thread, Andy. I think you’re right about God being subtle… he seems keen to assure us that the normal way the world works is secure and won’t shift crazily from minute to minute. I believe he can do amazing miracles now, and want to pray for them more – but I’m not expecting signs in the sky every day, or for everyone I know who’s ill to get better immediately.

    I was wracking my brains as to what characteristic of God to throw in – there are plenty of obvious ones (love, faithfulness, mercy, justice etc) but maybe this thread is a good place for some odder ones. So how about jealousy?

    I’ve been thinking a lot about Deuteronomy this month, and several times God defines himself as a jealous God. This is strange to me, since for humans jealousy is usually considered a negative trait. If a husband is jealous, perhaps he doesn’t trust his wife and thinks she’s having an affair. If a child is jealous, it may mean that he/she wrongly wants something another child has.

    But for God, it seems to mean that he’s extremely possessive, in a way it would rarely be right for anyone else to be. (Going back to husbands and wives, perhaps it would be one of the right things to feel if adultery had indeed taken place). He doesn’t want to share our worship with anyone else – he wants us to have our lives exclusively, passionately centred on him.

    So, there you go, another interesting trait of God’s personality. Fancy saying ‘God is jealous’ when next you’re asked what he’s like? It’d certainly make for a colourful conversation.

  3. I remember a talk at a youth group I used to belong to where we were discussing God being jealous. I can’t remember much about it unfortunately but do know I was surprised when the idea was first put to me. (I know, I should read the Bible more…)

  4. Honesty and Integrity mixed in with a whole lot of wisdom and learning.

    I think God thought about things a lot and then lays it on the line and sticks by it.

    However I think God is like us in the fact that he is learning all the time.

    By that I mean when he created us I don’t think he knew exactly what was going to happen. This does not mean he can’t do anything it just means he gave us free will.

  5. He especially decided to be “hands-off” and let us go wrong often. I think it’s very hard to stick to that, but he has.

    Interesting views about not knowing what would happen. Do people disagree about this?

  6. Can God see into the future ?

    If he knows exactly what will happen, why give us the freedom of choice to follow him ?

  7. I think he knew exactly what would happen, but gave us the choice because he thinks the reward is worth the price. Check the wiki for the whole “why God allows suffering” debate…

  8. > If he knows exactly what will happen, why give us the freedom of choice to follow him ?

    I’m not sure I understand this question.

  9. I think I like the image of God as a great author, who knows the plot from beginning to end and has chosen exactly how it runs at every point, so that it is just how He wants it. Within that plot, we have ‘free will’, or at least responsible and real choices to make, because God has given us it – though it is hard to understand how God can do both. (But characters in a book have free will at the level at which they exist, tho the author in a higher level chooses what they will do.)

    So God can choose to show us some of what the future holds if He wants – tho He definitely doesn’t show us much usually, cos that’s not how He wants things to run. And He also has planned out exactly what He’ll bring along in our lives to lead us to go the right way. That helps me (sometimes) to not worry about ruining the rest of my life by missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. (E.g. Romans 8:28, and the idea of God as our shepherd who knows what we really need.)

    Also with God there’s no paradox about revealing the future and then us avoiding it – see 1 Kings 22 for an example of that.

  10. OK, so Midge it looks like we disagree on this – I think God has actually given up some of his power to us, so he doesn’t control us (although he can, and occasionally does) but can see what we’re going to do.

  11. I sort of agree with you both.

    On the one hand, I don’t believe God controls us in the sense that we have no choice what to do. We have responsible, real choices to make that we’ll be held responsible for.

    On the other hand, I believe God has planned this whole universe and its outcomes. Why do I say that? Well, he can see the future; and he can alter whatever he wants to about what happens (including whether it ever gets started). So what happens, at one level, is something he’s decided to let happen. If you foresee something before it starts, and act in a certain way to let it happen, then it seems fair to say that you’ve planned it.

    Besides this chain of thought, I’m also very aware that the Bible seems to come crashing down decisively on both sides of this apparent contradiction. It emphatically says we have decisions to make, and that we’re responsible for our own sins, for example. But it also emphatically says that God is entirely in control, and has everything planned, whether that’s a political coup, an illness, a conversion, or a raincloud. I had a look at this last year, and was shocked to see how much there is about God’s sovereign control and predestination in there.

    So, there you go, I believe both sides of this without any easy answers. God is in control. We have real choices. But then, it was my destiny to choose to believe that, wasn’t it? 😉

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