Barnabas Network International | Online Resources for Churches


Creating God in our Image  


The following words were recently written to the editor of one of our national newspapers:  

"How is it that, at the beginning of the second millennium, many minds can accept the fairy stories of religion? It's hard to take any society seriously that still defers to an imaginary old man in the clouds".  


My reaction when I read those words was a mixture of sadness, frustration and laughter. I wanted to cry out, "Wherever did you get the idea that God is 'an imaginary old man in the clouds'?" I felt sad because the answer could well be that the writer got that concept from his own church background.   One thing is for sure, the writer certainly didn't get it from the Bible.


But I guess we have to face the fact that, when it comes to what God is like, confusion and ignorance abound. Much of that confusion and ignorance comes about for one basic reason. Although the Bible teaches that we are made in God's image and likeness, we humans are still sufficiently arrogant to presume to create God in our image and likeness. In that sense we are playing God in reverse. We are the creators; God is our creation whom we seek to use and control. Alternatively, as the creators, we can deny His existence.  


Some people are dominated by the fearsome image of a vindictive deity wielding a sceptre in anger and judgment. Others create in their minds the image of God as some kind of heavenly Santa Claus. If we are good boys and girls we will get presents but not so if we are bad. For those people, prayer is nothing more than a wish list.  


God is not "the man upstairs" or some syrupy, maudlin, super grandpa who dodders around heaven in a semi-senile state doling out platitudes about "being nice" or "anything is alright so long as you are sincere" or "love means never having to say you're sorry".   With such a wide range of ideas & concepts of God floating about the place, it's no wonder people are confused and ready to leave it all in the "too hard basket". Such a smorgasbord of ideas is an invitation to choose a "god" that suits them a god who is near enough to call on in time of emergency or crisis yet far enough removed so that he won't interfere in their lives.  


Do you really want to know what God is like? Then look at his Son. This is the classic example of "like father, like son" (or, as a friend of mine once colourfully expressed it, "Jesus is the spittin' image of His Dad!!") Jesus Christ claimed to perfectly reflect the character and nature of God. Incidentally, such a claim means we cannot limit His person or influence to that of a "good man". If He is not the "God man" then He is not a "good man".  


Let me urge you to come to grips with this matter of what God is like by getting out your family Bible and reading the story of Jesus Christ. Read the 4 gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Then you will know what God is like.   Let's have done with 'playing God' by presuming to create Him in our image. Let's ask Him to take that role in our lives and shaping us as He wants us to be.

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