What does God look like to you? Where did that image come from? What if how you “see” God actually stops you from seeing Him?
I See You…Not
The way we think about God is usually based on our family, culture, education and experiences. It’s called pre-understanding and it’s only natural because what you know is what you know.
It had never occurred to me, but when I began truly looking for God, I set out with an image in mind. Thanks to that image, the only God I was going to find was the one that fit that image.
Because of what I’d known or been shown, God was who most of us thought about Him. He was an image of what western civilization created.
Close your eyes for just a second – unless your driving, and if you’re driving you shouldn’t be reading this – now, assuming you’re still with me, what did your mental image of God look like?
The more I began to push past the surface of what I knew God to be, I began to realize that because I wanted to know God, I had attached an image of Him in my mind. That image was limiting what He would be able to do in my life. It was weird because I didn’t want to restrict Him at all, but thanks to my pre-understandings, that’s what we all do to Him.
My Jesus was an American Jesus. I loved Him, and was happy that others in the world got to know about Him, but the truth was, He belonged to America. In my mind’s eye, Jesus carried Old Glory and rode a screaming bald eagle across the sky. He was the God that I knew as an American. Why? Because that was how I knew him, as a product of Western culture.
I watched television shows about the starving kids in Africa and the missionaries and organizations who helped feed them. It was heartwarming and reassuring that my American Jesus was at work helping kids from across the globe. After all, it’s what we are called to do in helping others less fortunate than ourselves.
Jesus In A Box
I began to pray that I not restrict Christ in my life. You know those safe, regular prayers we pray about having a good day, and being happy or getting that promotion? That’s keeping Jesus in a box, like a magic genie. Sure, we believe in Him when we need Him. That’s also the way most men treat their relationships with others. It doesn’t work for good.
The first time I prayed out loud to God and asked that I allow Him to be Him and not what I thought of Him, I felt kinda stupid. How could I not allow God to be God? In reality, we do it every moment of every day that we fail to unlock that Jesus Box we keep in our pocket.
We limit Him as if He’s some mystical force that saves us when we screw up on the job, lose custody of our kids, our wife starts asking questions about our sexual sin, or what we thought we were entitled to suddenly becomes a reality that we never deserved in the first place. Only when we realize that we can’t fix, help or hide it, do we turn to that box for help.
What if we stopped being so selfish and single-minded about Jesus? How about we treat Him the way we want to be treated by others? With respect, honesty and love.
What if we broke the template that restricted Christ to only an American or western image? What if we accepted God as the creator, and in that image, we learned to expect all of the power of His majesty to work in our lives? Do you believe in God?
Great, now do you believe that God loves you, that He will save you, and that He wants what is best for you? If you don’t, then maybe you need to dig that Jesus box out of your pocket or the back of your closet and examine it. To be honest, there’s nothing inside of that box except the failing hope that you can get your life together, or that you can figure out the problems you’re facing.
How about you give God a chance to prove to you just how real He is. I don’t mean only in times of crisis, but in every situation in your life – the good and the not so good. I know sometimes it’s too much to fully comprehend the enormity of God’s truth.
But, the beauty of that is, you don’t have to grasp it all with one handful. Start small by setting God free from the small image you have of Him. Simply pray that you want to let God be God, and then do not try closing the lid on the Jesus Box. Treat Him as you want to be treated. Talk to Him in good times and in troubled times.
How about you begin seeing God in other nations, cultures and languages? You start to understand that the kids on TV aren’t being cared for by your limited Jesus, but by their God as well, and the same God that touches the orphan is the same one calling out for you right now.
Yes now. Once you stop allowing that false image of what you think God should look like to limit what God can actually do in your life, you will tap into an incredible supernatural source of live-giving potential.
What Do You Think?
What are your thoughts about how you picture God?
Do you think men limit what God can do because we always want to fix it ourselves?
Do you find it hard to drop the image you once had of God to allow Him to be who He is?
What’s the difference between faith and trust?
Any other thoughts about this?
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