The character of God – what He is like – seems like it should be a very fundamental message of Christianity. You don’t fall in love with someone or even decide you like them without first learning something about them.
The problem is that many people’s first understanding of God comes from wrong teachings – and there are many out there – of what He is like. You only have one chance to make a first impression. People are taught one way of what God is like and it can be hard to change that opinion – hard because we do not actually encounter God face to face. We often rely on second-hand information – other’s interpretations of God.
However, there is a way around this problem and that is to come as close as we can to a face-to-face encounter. That comes through understanding all we can of Jesus’ portrayal of what His Father is like:
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor 4:6)
That understanding is available to us through His Word. Everything He said and did and how He treated people was designed to show what His Father was like and is always like, for God never changes:
“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Mal 3:6)
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Heb 13:8)
We tend to become like that which we admire or worship. If we see God as forgiving and kind we will have a tendency to become more like that. If we have been treated badly and are holding a grudge against another, we may hope God is like that as well and be biased to believe that version of God which matches how we would like Him to be.
Naturally, the better someone seems to us, the more there is to admire in their character, the more we will like and even love them.
Whenever, in a particular passage or story where there are multiple ways to see God, the best practice is to choose the one (assuming there is valid scriptural support for it) that makes Him look the best. I somehow can’t imagine getting to heaven and being disappointed to discover that God is not as good as I thought Him to be.