Fr. Michael Schleupner continues an insightful series about our image of God. Let’s take a few quiet moments to learn about how certain images can be harmful to our relationships with God. Next week he will continue by sharing positive ways to improve our personal image of God.
Our Image of God – 3
In last week’s post, I asked the question: Why is our image of God so important? In a way, the answer is very simple. We become like the person we respect or adore. This is true when it comes to God and our relationship with God. As I began sharing last week, if our image of God is inaccurate, this can have harmful effects on us. To continue with last week’s thoughts:
* If we see God primarily as a judge who will condemn and just do away with some people and cast them into the eternal fires of hell, we may assume that we too can and should do the same. We might do this with those who believe or think differently or with those who have done something wrong. Think of the Inquisition and treatment of those whose faith was suspect in past centuries. Think of our attitudes toward capital punishment over the centuries. Even think of the horrendous wars fought by Christian nations among themselves often in the name (image) of God.
* If our image is of an angry God, then we might not feel any need to examine our own anger. Here I do not mean a situational anger, where we are angry about something that has happened. Anger is an emotion given us by God, and it has its place at times. Here I am talking about a general or pervasive type of anger, as when we are always feeling about things. The image of a God who is basically angry may lead us to feel justified and normal, even holy in this anger. That can be very harmful to us and to others.
* If we see God as tribal, then we too may engage in tribalism. Here the word tribal means exalting one group above all others and probably taking measures to exclude those who are not of your group. If we see God as tribal in these ways, then we too may become tribal in our attitudes and behavior. We may do this as individuals or even as a Church.
I believe that the possible images of God that I have cited last week and today are incomplete. They are not accurate images of God based on the full revelation of God given us in Jesus Christ. Next week’s post will start looking at a fuller and more positive way of seeing our image of and relationship with God. And yes, this will have effects on how we look upon ourselves and how we treat others.
~ Father Michael Schleupner
Some of the above thoughts are inspired by Good Goats-Healing Our Image of God by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn.