There is none like God... (Deuteronomy 33:26a). There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. (Psalm 86:8).
To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? An idol! A craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts for it silver chains. He who is too impoverished for an offering chooses wood that will not rot; he seeks out a skillful craftsman to set up an idol that will not move. Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth (Isaiah 40:18-22).
One of the reasons that it seems difficult to wrap your mind around God is that he is quite simply incomparable. Of course, that brings up a question: why have we been comparing him to things and ideas this whole time? Good question.
There are two directions for comparison—two origins of our correlation. The first says, “God says he’s like _____.” The other is the reverse, “I think God is like ______.” This is an important distinction, because one is legitimate while the other is idolatry.
It is totally legitimate for us to compare God to something in the world if God does. In Isaiah, for example, God tells us that he will bear us up on wings like eagles. Therefore, God is like an eagle—mighty, beautiful, and strong. Jesus reveals to us that, if we are in Christ, God is our father. Therefore, God is like a really great dad. God has shown us that he is like many things in our experience. So, when we compare him to those things, we’re actually getting to know him a bit better.
But this can also go all wrong on us. It starts when we speculate about God. “I think God is like ______,” we say. And typically, we fill up that blank with whatever we like the most. This is not a legitimate way to know God because it doesn’t start with God, it starts with us. We come with a great deal of audacity to think that we can ascribe to the Almighty attributes we’re most comfortable with. Instead of humbly exploring and enjoying his revelation, we insist on the validity of our own speculation.
“But if God is incomparable,” you may ask, “then how can we compare him to anything at all?” This is where God’s incomparability becomes beautiful. Because God is God, whatever good likeness we see in his creation is but a shadow of the original that exists in God himself. If we have a great dad, we might say, “God is a great dad like my dad.” But, God is actually so much better than your dad (or anyone else’s) that his fatherhood is incomparable—it’s unparalleled.
Or, perhaps you’ve experienced someone else’s sacrificial love. Maybe someone gave up a lot to take care of you, for example. You might, therefore, compare God’s sacrificial love to this person’s. But, God’s love is so much more costly, even than our own, that his love for his people in incomparable.
See, when we speculate about God, we get discouraged. Because, after all, how can we really know if God is like our comparison. The reality is much better. When we joyfully accept God’s revelation, then our knowledge of God is living and real, because we’re seeing God the way God sees God. Today, consider the likeness of God in human flesh, Jesus Christ. As you remember him, love his likeness. The real God is always better than the one we make up, anyway.