By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor
Woodland Hills Church
Have you ever wondered what God looks like? Although none of us have actually “seen” God, we all have our own internal “image” of what God “looks” like (what He is really like) that we carry around inside our hearts. Our God-image is birthed through life experiences, our thoughts, beliefs, choices, our culture, and Satan’s misleading schemes. So, how do we know if the God-image we are carrying in our heart is accurate?
Try an experiment; Close your eyes and try to picture God. Write a description of what you see and experience when you picture God.
Then try this experiment with your child, ask, “What does God looks like?” Have him or her describe or draw what God looks. His/Her response may be eye opening.
Typically, four distorted pictures of God are common in American culture.
- Powerful or angry Father: Some tend to see God as a harsh judge who focuses on our behavior rather than relationships.
- Distant, disinterested dad: Others may see a busy God who is not that interested in us, and we are at the whim of destiny/fate.
- Kindly, old Santa Claus: A few tend to see a happy God that doesn’t have a naughty list, doesn’t worry about our actions, and generously welcomes people into heaven.
- Mysterious, Spiritual Force: Some may tend to see God being impersonal, without form, and part of everything.
Each of these distorted God-images affects not only how a person sees God but their expectations of God as well as their interactions with Him. Negative perceptions can cloud the truth of God’s character and His love, thus making Him seem untrustworthy.
Having an accurate picture of God involves knowing who God is, His character, and knowing that God is trustworthy provides strong foundations for a healthy relationship with Him.
The Bible presents many clues about God’s identity and character but not about His appearance. Knowing His character and identity helps us to have an accurate God-image. Two key characteristics gleaned from the Bible are crucial: God is love (1 John 4:8) and God is faithful. God’s love is evidenced in many stories found in the Bible but just as important, we have personal experiences that reinforce this truth. We also have the words of Jesus who tells us that by knowing Him, we will know God the Father. Jesus demonstrated love and faithfulness, but He also revealed God’s desire to be intimately close to us in a relationship like no other.
Look back at the descriptions of God that you and your child produced. You may find a few commonalities. Compare these descriptions with what we know from the Bible. I’m guessing your “image” of God is closer to the truth than the common four misconceptions listed.
We may fear that our actions will model a distorted picture of God, but 1 John 4:8 reveals that by showing selfless love and kindness to our children, we are actually reinforcing a healthy picture of God since He is love. As we model being in a deep, trustworthy, and intimate relationship with our children, our spouse, our friends, and especially with God we are providing a healthy God-image.
So, if your child’s God-image is distorted or incomplete, start thinking of ways you can reveal a true and accurate image of God. Share personal experiences of God’s love and faithfulness. Read stories from the Bible and point out key truths about God based on what you read. Together practice memorizing Bible verses that reflect God’s love and character. Describe what God is like to you and what image of God you see. Seek God’s help in prayer, as well.
Continue to provide descriptions and insights into God’s character whenever you can. Your child will begin to realize that being close to God is invaluable and He is worthy of trust. Being in a relationship with God connects us to a true “image” of God.