Encouragement for Today
“Our Image of God”
Renee Swope, P31 Speaker Team Director, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member
Hebrews 1:3, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.” (NIV)
My kids and husband tease me because I’m almost always armed with a camera. Of course, I ignore their harassment because I know they enjoy the pictures I take just as much as I do. With each shot that is snapped, I imagine a page in my scrapbook where our most treasured memories will be kept. Some of my favorite family times are when we curl up and relive the fun and laughter we have captured on film and stored in our albums.
Unfortunately, my sentiment isn’t quite the same with all of the photos that come back from being processed. There always seems to be those shots I don’t want anyone to see. In fact, I secretly pitch the ones that aren’t very good. I’m especially quick to toss the ones where eyes are half-closed or a mouth is crooked. And you can just forget the ones where the camera adds ten pounds to my face and hips. These are not the images I want in my photo album or hanging on my refrigerator.
The other day I was editing photos on my computer and I began to wonder if God ever sees the way we picture Him and wants to edit or delete some of the bad shots. There have been many times when my image of God didn’t accurately portray Who He is. Times when my image of Him conjured feelings of fear and condemnation verses protection and assurance, causing my relationship with Him to seem distant.
My childhood church experiences shaped my earliest images of God. Growing up, I went to church on and off, but God was never mentioned in our home. He seemed high and lofty and out of my reach. In fact, if I needed to talk with Him, I thought I had to go to one of the leaders in our church, tell them all my sins. They’d give me an assignment for atonement so I could receive communion and be in good standing with the big guy. I am sorry if that sounds sacrilegious, but it was a little girl’s perception. We didn’t have Bibles in our home and prayers merely consisted of an occasional rote offering before dinner. We had religion, but no relationship with God.
On top of God being unreachable, my father was emotionally distant and sometimes unapproachable. I never knew the rules in our home until he was raising his voice and threatening discipline. I feared punishment and wondered what I could do to make him happy. My parents divorced when I was two years old and I always hoped that if I was “really good” he might come back. My dad had some good traits, too. When he was in a good mood, he’d take me shopping for clothes and give me hugs. Those are the times when I felt his love.
When I was 22 years old, I surrendered my heart to Christ. Soon after I became a Christian, I joined a church that placed strong emphasis on door-to-door evangelism. All I wanted to do was impress my pastor and earn God’s favor. The more I shared the gospel with others, the more I thought God was pleased with me, and the more ministry responsibilities I was given. I struggled with discouragement and only “felt” like God loved me when I got a raise in my salary, a promotion at work, or when I led someone to Christ. I had created God in my father’s image and some of my photos needed restoration. A few of my images needed to be deleted permanently.
What about you? If God were looking at your photos of Him would He want them hanging on your refrigerator? Has your image of God been shaped by past experiences, or is it based on what you read in His Word and know from your personal relationship with Him?
Hebrews 1:3 tells us, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.” I have found that this verse is powerfully true. The more I get to know Jesus by spending time with Him, the more I know the heart of God and the truth about His heart towards me! So, if you really want to get to know God – if you really want to know what He looks like – spend some time with Jesus, His Son. Everything about them is exactly the same!
My Prayer for Today:
Lord, I want to know YOU. I want to know and see You as You really are. I offer up all of the images I have of You and I ask that You delete the ones that are flawed and replace them with accurate portraits of Your face and Your heart toward me. Show me Yourself through Your Son Jesus Christ. In His Name I pray, Amen.
- Close your eyes and think about God for at least a minute.
- Write down what you see. Journal perceptions and impressions you have of God.
- Ask God if your image of Him accurately portrays Who He is.
When I think about God, am I drawn to Him? Is He approachable and loving? Or is He distant and demanding? Is God the first One I run to when I am hurting? Or do I wait until I have myself composed to approach His throne? If God were looking at the images I have of Him, would He want them hanging on my refrigerator for friends and family to see?
Colossians 1:15a, “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God.” (NIV)
Colossians 1:19-20a, “God was pleased to have His fullness dwell in Him [Jesus], and through Him to reconcile to himself all things.” (NIV)
Ephesians 1:11, “It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living.” (The Message)
1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (NIV)
Do You Know Him?
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Who Holds the Key to Your Heart, by Lysa TerKeurst