God in the Fray
Every one of us carries a picture of God in our hearts. This picture comes primarily from what we heard about God in our childhood, but it also comes from the way we’ve seen him portrayed in movies or in books. For years, I pictured God as a cop just waiting to nail me with a radar gun. (This probably had something to do with the fact that I was living lawlessly and always looking over my shoulder for the real cops!) Later, after I became a believer, I saw him as an unmoved and unappeasable judge. All my efforts at good behavior did not give me much confidence about my standing with him.
Some see him as an angry God with a hair-trigger temper, punishing us with lightning bolts and hurricanes. Others see him as an old man with long white hair, benevolent, but boring like Father Time. He’s been pictured as the Guy in the Sky, the Man Upstairs, or even a cosmic Sugar Daddy. But who is he really?
Here’s why these pictures matter: Your view of God will impact every area of your life. Your view of God will impact your view of people, of problems, of money, of work, of this life and the next. It will affect how you deal with challenges, how you handle pressure, and what you do with your time. It will affect your self-image and your self-esteem, (and of course) your relationship with God and your relationships with others.
If you see God as a stern taskmaster, you will be reluctant to seek out his presence in times of guilt and shame, because you won’t expect mercy from him. If you see God as a jolly but benign Santa Claus type, you may pray to him for good feelings and wishes, but you will probably find it hard to cling to him in times of extreme trouble and grief. If your God is the copilot god of the now-clichéd “Footprints” poem, you may think to turn to him when you’re in trouble, but you won’t be inclined to trust him as sovereign over your everyday life.
A believer whose view of God is hazy will live a confused Christian life. To put it bluntly, anyone whose picture of God is weak will live out a weak faith. So where do we rehab our view of God? Where do we go to see the truest picture of God? We go to the Bible, where God gives us his own view of himself.
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