Be honest. When you think of characteristics that describe God, what is the first thing that comes to mind? We know God loves us, but do we think of God as good?
I would argue many Christians walk around with a distorted image of God. Although, we might believe He loves us, we get a picture of God who is continually tipping the scales, and we usually come up short. We picture God through a cloudy reflection of our own personal experiences and relationships.
I would argue this: The further we get from God, the more our view of God becomes distorted. It's like stepping into a house of mirrors at a carnival. Instead of seeing a true reflection, we get an image that has been skewed and manipulated.
There's a key to this: Keep your relationship with God close. I truly believe this. Your distorted view of God will directly affect your relationship with God. I believe there are people walking around who want an intimate relationship with Christ but have a hard time overcoming their preconceived concept of God.
Maybe you had a father who was more of a disciplinarian and all of a sudden our picture of God becomes more of a taskmaster than a loving Daddy. I meet people everyday who have a desire for a deeper relationship with God but have a struggle that they can't quite put their finger on. When we dig a little deeper, the real issue begins to surface.
Take Stacy for example. Stacy considers herself a Christian and has always desired a deeper relationship with God. Stacy's father was a high ranking official in the military. While deep down inside Stacy knew her father loved her, he rarely showed it, and his strict disciplinarian demeanor made it hard for her to ever live up to his expectations.
She craved for any sign of affection or a brief moment where he seemed to be proud of her accomplishments. They were few and far between.
When Stacy hears about a God of unconditional love, it's difficult to comprehend. The love she has known most of her life has come with strings attached. The love she knows is usually conditional on her own accomplishments.
She wants to believe it, she's just never experienced that kind of love.
Think of all the images of God that have been conjured up by our society in regards to God. Some people see God as the little kid with a magnifying glass, and we are the ants burning beneath its glare. Or maybe you view God perched atop the clouds like Zeus with his lightning bolt in hand ready to make us pay. Or maybe your view of God is that he is distant or uninvolved, like a watchmaker who intricately and delicately crafts his creation and then steps back to watch it tick away.
The Bible paints several pictures of God. Some of those pictures (especially stories in the Old Testament) are difficult to comprehend. We read about a God of love and grace and then see God's destruction of an entire nation or city. That can be difficult to reconcile. I think it's important that we look at the character of God throughout the Bible.
There's a great story in the Old Testament that is often overlooked, the story Hosea & Gomer (Hosea 1-3). You may need to go read that one. God tells Hosea (a prophet of God) to go and find his wife Gomer (a prostitute) and bring her back home and love her again. Can you imagine that?
Hosea 3:1 "The LORD said to me, 'Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods...'"
We get this mental picture of Hosea wandering through the streets of the city looking for his adulterous wife. I can almost imagine Hosea peaking around each corner and talking to the business owners trying to find the whereabouts of his wife.
While this story speaks on many levels, Hosea becomes a picture of God, and we ultimately represent Gomer, the prostitute. God is continually searching for us and drawing us back into a relationship with him regardless of how far we've gone astray.
God is not sitting perched from his place on high, ready to judge or condemn. Instead, we see a picture of God who is intimately involved in our lives and who loves regardless of how far we might have strayed from him. We are the adulteress wife, the prostitute who is out selling ourself, while God is still searching and calling us back home. What an amazing picture of the unconditional and relentless love of God.
Although there are many attributes of God, I would argue that many people need to reclaim a picture of God as good. The story of God and humanity is a story of redemption, a story of God trying to reclaim intimate relationship with his creation, YOU. It's a story of pursuit, and you are the one being pursued.
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