Vision Correction – What is my image of God?
The importance of image
Image is the general impression that a person, organisation, or product presents to the public. It is estimated that in 2015 alone, over billion will be spent on advertising. Companies have come to know how effective this is, hence the massive amount of money spent on strengthening image.
If we take a look at the profile pictures that people use on social media, it is evident that most of us use our best photo because we are aware that our external image says something about us and we want people to think highly of us. We have this urge to belong and to fit-in!
What we are speaking about here is in actual fact the art of marketing which aims to portray the best of any product or person. Sadly, through experience, we have learned that some products do not perform exactly as it says on the box and hence we start to grow cynical and doubtful.
A series of tests carried out by Princeton University has revealed that it takes less than a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face and that longer exposures do not significantly alter those impressions. Think of the bad guy/good guy in movies – one look and you know who the trouble maker is! The only way to change our impression about someone or something is to engage with that thing or person.
What is your impression of God? Sadly it may not the best for everyone but our invitation through this article is that you engage with Him and allow Him to reveal His beauty to you.
Whilst thinking about this topic I remembered about all the disappointments that we all experience. Disappointments which presuppose expectations which were passed on to us through seemingly innocent stories like fairy tales . A quick look at the more popular stories reveals a common element: they all live happily ever after. But this is far from the reality of things. In actual fact, men rarely find a damsel in distress and women do not find their prince. Life is fraught with pain, challenges, arguments, disagreements and ‘unhappiness’ and we ask – ‘Where is my ‘Happily Ever After?’
As I tucked my seven-year-old niece into bed last November, we said a short prayer after which she told me that she hoped that Jesus was not like Father Christmas – just another story!
The distorted image of God the Father
All these images and fantasies which we carry with us are a huge obstacle when we are told to believe in God who is our Father, perfect in every way and we may think to ourselves – this is just another story which has only disappointment in store for me.
Yet God is really a Father. If we dwell on the word Father for a while we will most probably think of our earthly father. He could have been the most loving of people yet, because of our fallen human nature, there have surely been disappointments from him. Some of us do not even know our father. These feelings are easily transposed onto God and we may think of Him in the same way we think of our earthly one.
The older we grow the more we realise that motivations are somewhat ‘polluted’ by our own thoughts and needs and feelings. So perhaps, after all, our parents did not always really do what was best for us but at times what was best for them. So perhaps, God too, tells us certain things because it suits Him rather than us.
The true image of God the Father
If we are honest, we all want our freedom and we fight for it tooth and nail but what we fail to remember is that freedom is rooted in values and principles. The freedom we enjoy today is part and parcel of the principles and values that have been established over the past decades. They are as inseparable like egg from a cake. Can you take out eggs from an already baked cake? That is how impossible it is to separate duties from freedom: the right I have to swing my arm around stops where your face begins.
In gaining our freedom we need to be careful not to free ourselves from God and His good, pleasing and perfect will (Rom 12:2) like what happened to the prodigal son who got his freedom but then realised that he would rather be in his father’s home.
“A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects.
When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: “I don’t believe that God exists.”
“Why do you say that?” asked the customer.
“Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn’t exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can’t imagine a loving a God who would allow all of these things.”
The customer thought for a moment, but didn’t respond because he didn’t want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and un-kept. The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: “You know what? Barbers do not exist.”
“How can you say that?” asked the surprised barber. “I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!”
“No!” the customer exclaimed. “Barbers don’t exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.”
“Ah, but barbers DO exist! What happens is, people do not come to me.”
“Exactly!”- affirmed the customer. “That’s the point! God, too, DOES exist! What happens, is, people don’t go to Him and do not look for Him. That’s why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world.””
The truth is that God has good plans for you (Jer 29:11), He sent Jesus to save us and to give us life and life in abundance (John 10:10). He is the Light of the World (John 9:5) He calls all those who are weary and tired in order to give them rest (Matt 11:28).
He strengthens the powerless. When Jesus saw suffering He was deeply moved. No disappointment, no hurt, no break-up, no sickness, no sensation, no emotion can stop God’s Love for you. Allow Him to whisper in your heart that which have been wanting to hear for all your life. That you are wanted, that you are loved, that you are desired, that you are relevant, that you are important, that you are special, that you are lovable, that you are likeable.
Incidentally the shortest verse in the Bible is found in John Chapter 11 verse 35 and it simply says – “Jesus Wept”. Entrust yourself to a God who feels for you, who is moved by your story and wants to heal you from your false image of Him for you to be able to see and experience the beauty of God Himself and to enable you to follow Him in love and obedience.