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What does God really look like?

Is God an Old Man in the Sky?

When I say to you, “think of God,” who does he look like? Is your picture of God an old man with a beard? Is He an angry father who wants to punish disobedient children? Is He a loving Shepherd like Psalm 23 describes? Is He a carpenter who was human and spent lots of time with regular people and made religious so angry leaders angry they murdered him on a Roman cross?

When God is an old man who is far far away on a rocking chair in the clouds he doesn’t have a deep impact on my life and I’m not accountable to anyone for my actions. God probably just created the universe and then left it alone to run out of tim like winding up a clock and letting it go. Lots of Christians live their lives this way. Its called Deism.

“Deism holds that God does not intervene with the functioning of the natural world in any way, allowing it to run according to the laws of nature that he configured when he created all things. Because God does not control or interfere with his self-sustaining Creation, its component systems work in concert to achieve the balanced natural processes that make up the physical world.” (Wiki “Deism”)

Angry Father

If God is an angry father who wants to punish me his disobedient child then I’m filled constantly with anxiety when I think of him. I’ll be afraid that whatever happens and unless I’m good enough God will want to punish me.

This attitude exists a lot in the Philippines especially after the recent Typhoon Haiyan. Spiritual leaders threaten everyone with Gods wrath after every natural disaster hits this nation. They said, “God is angry and he is punishing people so that they will repent!”

I disagree, that message is inconsistent with the progression of scripture. God is not an angry father and if you read further you’ll understand why.

The Good Shepherd of Psalms 23

If God is the shepherd of Psalm 23 then maybe we can trust him and maybe he really cares about us. Many believers love this image of God but it’s still a spiritual image it is not tangible and concrete enough to form a full relationship. That’s how I felt. The Old Testament God shows us some things about himself and he walked and talked with the men and women of the past (even physically) but what about today? Even though there is so much dissonance and disharmony in this world does God want to invite us into his family again?

Jesus Demonstrated the full Character of God

God is like Jesus. If you believe God looks like Jesus like the New Testament authors then God fully understands everything we struggle with. God demonstrated us what he intended our lives to look like before we rejected his guidance when he was Jesus (Gen 3). Despite the fact that we rejected Jesus, God came to us as a person to reconcile our relationship and invite us back into harmony with him as his full forgiven family members. The Apostle Paul wrote about the mission of Jesus:

“Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others.  What we mean is that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace. We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message. We speak for Christ and sincerely ask you to make peace with God. Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.”

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 CEV

Your picture of God can be the vehicle that will give you hope, life, joy and fill you with the love of  we see in Jesus Christ the man and experience through his Holy Spirit today.

What is your main image of God?

Dr. Greg Boyd said that our picture of God is the thing that shapes our lives the most. He has recently written an article about the impact of our picture of God on our lives. Read it, it’s interesting.

Read part 3 and if your inspired and want to read further the links to part 1+2 of his article are at the bottom of this blog.

Read First

Part 3: Imaging God Rightly: God’s Self-Portrait

Read After

Part 1: How Do You “See” God? God’s Self-Portrait

Part 2: Imaging God Wrongly: God’s Self-Portrait