I was around six or seven years of age when I was introduced to the all powerful, merciful but wrathful God. Hold up. Time out. Let me clarify.
I’ve always known God existed, yes even at a very early age. There’s a whole backstory to this that I won’t go into right now for sake of time. Just know I was always aware there was something bigger than myself. However, I was too young to articulate my own thoughts or fully understanding my feelings. Ok, back to the story.
So yeah, six or seven. That’s when characteristics of God were first introduced to me. When I say God, I’m referring to the God of the Bible. And throughout my lifetime these characteristics better known as attributes have been reinforced. Even outside of the Biblical context. Hold on to your hats while I explain.
I had a stint in life which led me to seek out God in other ideas and religions. I sought after God by learning about Judaism, but sheesh was that a lot of work. And frankly I was too lazy in my early 20s to worry about traditions, rituals, feasts and celebrations. I mean, if you’re going to do it, do it right. And I’d rather not do it all. I also sought after God in Islam. But eventually I tossed out my Quran because I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. It just didn’t make much logical sense. I saw nothing special in it. I became interested in the Nation of Islam at one point after receiving a flyer on a street corner while living in Greensboro, North Carolina. I thought it was too militant and it seemed like God must be angry with them 100% of the time. They never looked happy, especially Luis Farrakhan. Is God this bitter? I also remember Malcom X ran from them and that confirmation fit in with my bias.
These are just a few examples, but my point is, I did a lot of searching even after learning about the God of the Bible as a child. And in every religion I looked into, God was essentially the same. Powerful and wrathful but willing to accept you based on certain conditions. Needless to say I never fully moved away from Christianity. In fact I went to church and pulled out my Bible every once in a blue moon during this period in my life. I never gave God’s character much thought back then. I think chiefly because everyone is taught the same thing concerning God. But a few years ago I started getting this nudge that something wasn’t quite right concerning my view of Him. God, just felt completely distant. Not in operation within my life, but distant in what I imagined to be true relationship. The kind of relationship you see with Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Job, David, Joseph, Jeremiah, Esther and so many others. I selfishly wanted what they had. Then one day it hit me like a bolt of lightning. I came across a very familiar passage.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them - Genesis 1:27
This verse changed everything for me. Well, it was the beginning of the change. I read this verse over and over again. I asked myself, how much do I really resemble God? How much do I know about God?
When we think about God, most of us are taught to constrain our thinking in such a way to keep God big such as omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. But when I read Genesis 1:27, I’m hit with the fact that God is more than those things and those things are huge! But He’s more than just some powerful deity. Now, this is probably where you say, yes yes, He’s a loving, personable, gracious Father! And then I say, stop, you’re doing that thing I was just talking about.
Yes, God is loving and gracious and merciful and is our Father! All of the typical talking points but this just cracks the surface! But because we often fail to break through this surface layer we end up wrestling with God, wrestling with our Faith, with doubt, and we wonder if God is even playing an active role in our lives. Especially when the proverbial chips are down. We become convinced God is nothing more than a watchmaker. Winding up all of creation, only to sit back and watch it tick as a spectator. But that’s just one perspective. There’s another perspective that says God is more like a genie, just waiting to bless you at your command. Why? Because He’s a loving Father that just wants to show His love towards you. Umm, no.
Ok. Let’s reel this back in a bit because I don’t want to lose you.
I’m going to break this down in a very practical way. And while this may seem silly, realize that is due to our faulty, traditional wiring concerning what we’ve been taught about God.
Ask yourself, what do you think God is truly like? If you had a day to walk with God as Adam and Eve once did, do you believe that day could be filled with humor, jokes or witty sarcasm? Do you think Jesus ever laughed, told a joke or pulled a prank? While you may know Jesus as a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3), when you think of God the Father, can you also picture Him as sorrowful and broken heartened? Or is your idea of God too big and powerful for those emotions? Jesus was fully God and fully man. That means, human and God in one existence. Do you think Jesus ever found women attractive? If you believe no, can you find scripture that supports His humanity being different from ours? Or perhaps since God created man and woman, and Jesus is fully man and God it bends our brains a bit to think God the Son could find creation attractive. How about intimacy? Do you think God created sex as some necessary act to a means of populating the earth or as an act of pleasure and intimacy first, which comes with the gift of populating the earth? When you think of Satan, do you see God as once a divine Father to him or do you just see a climatic struggle between good and evil? What about the other divine beings that rejected God? Can you see God as a divine Father, once in relationship with them? Or do you only see evil beings completely disconnected from God since their own creation? How about deception? Can you see God as being deceptive? Deception typically comes with a negative connotation. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be. For example, while Satan negatively deceived the world, God paid him back, deceiving the enemies of darkness by going to the cross. There’s a reason Jesus wouldn’t permit demons to speak while He was casting them out. He was practicing deception. I’ll expound on this at a future date.
Why am I asking you all of these questions? I’m asking because I want you to really think about your perception of God. To really dig deep. I want you to think about where you received your ideas about His character, good and bad. This is undoubtedly the most important step to meeting God. It’s imperative we start with a clean slate, challenging what we know and allowing God’s word to leave a proper impression of His character and nature on our minds.
Genesis 1:27 is a very powerful but often misunderstood verse. The arrival of Jesus was the embodiment of this verse. Don’t overlook its significance. God did not have to communicate that we are created in His image. He didn’t have to create us in His image at all. God could have simply stated He created man and woman and left it at that. Yet, He went further so we would know just how much we’re alike. He underscores this verse when He took up a human form as fully God. However, let me be clear. In no way does this mean we are little gods or that we can become gods. The point I want you to take away is that God never intended for us to think we’re not connected or that He is distant from us. In fact you’ll find God reminding us of this fact throughout the entire Bible, starting with Genesis. And so this is where we will begin.