Can we be like God? The answer is both a “yes” and a “no.” It might be said of a person that “he is a chip off the ole block” – meaning that he is just like his father … or that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” But even so, no two people are completely alike, even those genetically related. So there is a matter of degree in the reference to ever being like God. We may be a lot like God, yet still actually far from being truly like God.
Of course there is also the matter of the divine creator versus the human creation. There are certain qualities or characteristics – called “attributes” when studying the person of God – that are simply “other” than us. These attributes were those of our studies and writings last week – things like God’s total self-sufficiency, immutability, and His omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience.
In the theological realm of discussion, we speak about God’s attributes in two broad categories: communicable and incommunicable. Those are a couple of big words, and you’ve probably not heard them very often.
As I think about it, the only time I’m very familiar with these words being used is in the context of speaking about diseases as either communicable or non-communicable. I had to laugh yesterday during the sermon when using this illustration – asking how many people use these words in conversation – that quickly the hands being raised were all of the medical field people in the church.
Communicable diseases are diseases that can be spread from person to person. Some examples are the Common Cold, Chicken Pox, and Strep Throat. It is easy to share and pass on these diseases.
Non-communicable diseases are those that can’t travel from person to person. These diseases include such as allergies, diabetes, and sickle cell disease. During my teen and early adult years, I had a lot of trouble with seasonal allergies, and I always felt bad that I made people nearby think I was contagious when all it was, was the pollen count. Likewise, I’m not worried about getting diabetes by being around my diabetic son. It is not possible to share these diseases.
The attributes of last week that Chris spoke and wrote about are those in the category of incommunicable – God has them, and we aren’t going to get them. But this week we turn to the other category as we examine some of the long list of attributes that we call “communicable.” You can catch these! You can grow in these areas toward the end of being more like God. And yes, that’s a good thing.
Another way of saying all of this is that we turn our attention this week to study about God’s “nearness” rather than His “uniqueness.” These “near” attributes we may share with God as a result of being created in the image of God. In three large categories, we may speak of them as follows…
- God is personal—attributes that relate more directly to His person, such as wisdom and faithfulness
- God is creative—attributes that relate to God’s beauty, glory, and creative power
- God is moral—attributes that relate to God’s unchanging moral character and standards
Under this third category we have scheduled for today to mention the attribute of justice.
It is one of the great sadnesses of life to see the prevalence of injustice in our contemporary world. We see it on display every day with the news. Evil prospers in varied corners of the world, with the fallout of refugees by the millions and the sadness especially of children’s lives ruined.
In that injustice is sin, it is hated by God … For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. (Isaiah 61:8)
As well, the #1 persecuted entity in the world today is Christians – much being written about this fact in just the last month of published statistics from around the planet. Obviously, if God was about bringing justice upon the earth now, there would be no martyrs. But justice prevails in the end.
And in that God loves justice, it is a “just” calling for us to contend for it wherever we may have ability and opportunity.
It is a wonderful truth to know that there is a God of justice – being that it defines him characteristically – as a final judge of the affairs of this world. Often judges in our fallen world are thought to be either too lenient in sentencing or else very arbitrary and inequitable. This is not (and in the final day will not be) a problem with God. There is great peace in that knowledge, especially knowing that in Christ we are not under a debt of transgression – that debt having been paid for by Christ. Therefore God is faithful and JUST to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.