How Clearly Do You See God?
There are several biblical principles which ground us:
- Absolute Truth does exist. John 14:6 “…I am the way, the truth, and the life…”
- Our perception of Truth does not alter or affect its reality. (2 Kings 6)
- Our understanding of God is limited. (1 Corinthians 13:12 & Isaiah 55:9)
Who Is God?
He is. (Deuteronomy 4:35 & John 18:4-8)
Exodus 3:14 “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”
God Always Is
God always exists in the present, with Him there is no past or future. God never “was” in the past. God never “will be” in the future. God is not bound by time or space.(Hebrews 13:8) A few more of his characteristics:
- All Powerful (Omnipotent)
- All Knowing (Omniscient)
- Everywhere (Omnipresent)
- Immutable (unchanging)
Why Worship God?
- He is Holy (Isaiah 6:1-3)
- He is Worthy (Revelation 5:12-13)
- He Created Us (Psalm 139: 13-17)
- Father & Potter (Isaiah 64:8)
- He Desires Our Worship (John 4:23-24)
- Worship Him Now or Later (Romans 14:11)
Why Is God Interested In Us?
- He Initiates. (1 John 4:19)
- God is a Relational Being. (Genesis 1:26-27)
- God Created Us to Love Us. (Jeremiah 32:38-40)
- God fashioned us for Good Works.( Ephesians 2:8-10)
Defining The God Concept And The God Image
In Heaven we will finally see clearly! “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1 Corinthians 3:12
Understanding Your View of God
Have you ever noticed you can KNOW something about God in your head, but you can’t seem to FEEL IT in your heart? While on earth we will never be able to have a perfectly clear view of God, however we DO NOT have to carry DISTORTED images of God. One of the main reasons for the “Head-Heart” battle is human beings have two “pictures” of God that are not always compatible.
Understanding our “God Concept”
“God Concept” is your “head knowledge” about God. Your “God Concept” develops over time through learning about God and the Bible. Some examples include:
- God created the world in 6 days.
- Sin separates us from God.
- He gave us the Bible.
- Jesus died on the cross.
- He wants all people to be saved.
- God is love.
Understanding our “God Image”
God image is your “gut level” feelings about how you believe God feels toward you and relates to you. Your “God Image” develops over time through your relationship with major attachment figures- primarily Father and Mother, critical incidents and traumatic life experiences, authority figures that taught you about God.
Results of a Distorted “God Image”
Many people are not consciously aware of the distortions of their “God Image.” A distorted “God Image” may lead to difficulty trusting God and submitting to God and His Word. It may also lead us to have faulty expectations of God. Unless we make intention decisions to otherwise, most of the time we react to life out of what we feel in our “heart,” even though we know differently in our “head.”
Identifying Distortions In Our Understanding Of God
How the Lens We Use Changes What We See
If the lenses in your glasses were green, how would it affect what you saw? If you had a father who was overbearing, controlling, and critical, how do you think it might affect your view of other authority figures? If you were abandoned as a child, how do you think it might affect your feelings about being securely and safely attached to others?
Common God Image Distortions
- The God of Impossible Expectations – viewing God as never being pleased, always ‘raising the bar,’ and perfectionistically pointing out your failures.
- The Emotionally Distant God – viewing God as only truly feeling love toward you when you are happy; and angry/disappointed with you when you are sad, down, or worried.
- The Disinterested God – viewing God as if He looks at you with a “why are you bothering Me again?” mindset.
- The Unreliable God – viewing God as abandoning you when you need him most, often in your darkest hour. That is, when the going gets tough, He leaves you stranded.
- The Rug-Pulling God – viewing God as waiting to “pull the rug out” from underneath you when things are going well. That is, just when you think things are going well, He’s going to “get” you with something negative (like an illness, tragedy, etc.)
- The Abusive God – viewing God as enjoying seeing you in pain and as wanting to rob you of joy. Seeing Him as being vindictive and “playing” with your life as if you are a pawn.
Overly Positive Distortions
- The Cosmic Buddy – viewing God as universally loving without seeing a need to respond to His call to holiness. You see God as loving you with blind acceptance without ANY expectations of how you should submit your life to Him, change your behavior, or deny yourself.
- The Vending Machine – viewing God as a vending machine from which you can get what you want, when you want it. If something does not turn out the way you wanted, you get angry at God for not responding like you thought He should.
A Very Common God Image Distortion
A common, but distorted, way to view the Trinity is to see:
- God the Father as stern, difficult to approach, and austere.
- Jesus the Son as understanding, approachable, and kind.
- The Holy Spirit as a friendly ghost.
Can you identify what is wrong with this picture?
Correcting The Distortion
Remember the Trinity is three Persons in One. That is, while they are each distinct, they ultimately share the same character, nature, and attributes. A Biblical picture is:
- While God is Holy, He is also the God of all comfort!
- While Jesus is approachable and kind, He will also return in judgment with a sword coming out of His mouth!
- While the Holy spirit is mysterious, He is also knowable and present in our lives!
Developing A More Accurate Understanding Of God
“Sanctify them through thy truth: Thy word is truth.” John 17:17
Pray to See God More Clearly
Ask God to reveal Himself to you more clearly. Ask God to make you aware of any ways where your view of Him is clouded by distortions in your: God Concept – “head knowledge” and God Image – “gut-level”.
Don’t Force Your Own Meanings Onto the Scripture
Distortions (both major and minor) in understanding God often occur when we read our own meanings into Scriptural passages or take things out of context. We superimpose our life experiences onto the Word. Getting to know the God of the Bible and “clearing” distorted lenses can occur when we take what the Bible says in context and then draw the meaning out of the passage as we superimpose the Word onto our life experiences.
Draw a Picture
Draw a picture of God out of your “gut level feelings” and not your head. In one example, a person said, “I feel like I am in a 100 story building with God on the top floor. I’m in the right building and I’m even in the elevator pushing the button to go up; but the elevator doesn’t work.”
Balance Grace & Truth
Grace is God’s unmerited love, favor, and strength. Truth is God’s holiness, perfection, and righteousness. God’s Grace and Truth cannot be separated. A biblical concept of God contains both without violating the other. Grace without Truth isn’t Grace; It’s license. Truth without Grace isn’t Truth; It’s condemnation. (John 1:14, John 1:17, Colossians 1:6)
“I feel a strong desire to tell you- and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me- which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs- pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.” – C.S. Lewis
Learning about the Father Through the Son
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 & Colossians 1:13-15
His Glory His Image His Person His Power
“Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:2-3
Distinguish Between True & False Guilt
True guilt is spiritually and emotionally healthy and moves us to take appropriate action to deal with sin. False guilt is always unhealthy, both spiritually and emotionally. True Guilt & False Guilt Graphic
Spend time focusing and contemplating on God, the Word, and His promises. Allow the Holy Spirit to teach you. Christian meditation differs from unbiblical forms of meditation in that:
- It focuses our minds on the Word.
- It focuses our minds on God’s promises.
- It focuses our minds on God’s character.
- It helps us get perspective on who God is and who we are.
Read and meditate on the Psalm 103 (or Psalm 139) every day for a week taking time consider what each verse means. Review and meditate on God’s promises to Believers. Sit quietly and mediate on verses like “Be still and know I am God (Psalm 46:10) or “Peace, be still (Mark 4:39) ”
Get Someone Else’s Perspective
It is hard for us to see our own distortions; sometimes we don’t see them at all. It is very helpful to work through God image distortions with the help of a mature brother or sister in Christ (e.g., parents, a mentor, or an elder/minister).
Painful life experiences can greatly shape, distort, and skew your God image to a degree. For example, God image distortions are common for people who grew up in dysfunctional families and those who have experienced abuse. For some people, counseling can be very helpful to work through emotional, relational, and spiritual hurts. Don’t hesitate to talk with your elder/ministers or ACCFS if you have questions about this or would like to talk to someone.
Trust in God’s Ability to Heal
“For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” — Isaiah 51:3
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