While in the car today, I caught the tail end of a message by Chip Ingram on the radio. Now, I must admit that I don't normally listen to very much preaching on the radio, but something he said caught my attention. Discussing his journey to faith, he said that if he had to do it all over again, he would have made an intentional effort at the beginning of his journey to focus on the character of God - studying who God is and getting to know God.
The above sentence from Practicing the Presence reminded me of Ingram's message. The very foundation of our faith lies in understanding of who God is. Unfortunately, many of us carry around very faulty, unhelpful images of God that have been unconsciously taught to us by well-meaning mentors. Maybe it's the view of God as the big "Santa Clause" in the sky. Maybe is the bearded elderly grandpa image - he;s warm and fuzzy but now really able to do much. Maybe it's a view of an angry God who is waiting to punish us for our sin (one who even wants to send sinners to hell). Maybe it's a view of God in which we do things for God, in order to earn God's favor. Maybe this view goes all the way to the idea of "working" our way to into heaven. These are not images of the God that Jesus knew.
Foundational to our spiritual life is a correct view/understanding of God the Father: the God who loves all of creation, who desires good for us, who is trustworthy and generous, who is holy and just. We need to build our spiritual lives on a sure foundation of the true character of God if we want the "temple" of our lives to withstand the storms of life. (For a good resource on this, see The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith.)
What about you? What unhealthy or dangerous images of God were you taught growing up? What healthy, helpful images were you taught. Share your experience in the comments section (click on the "comments" link below the title of this post).