What is Your Mental Image of God?

When you think about God, what do you see in your mind’s eye? How do you imagine God?

Maybe it’s Michelangelo’s image of God in his Sistine Chapel fresco The Creation of Adam. Perhaps it’s Raphael’s depiction of God in his famous painting Ezekiel’s Vision.

Jesus said that God is spirit, that is, He is not material (John 4:24). However, there are a number of times that the Bible records visual depictions of God (2 Chronicles 18:18, Isaiah 6:1, Ezekiel 1:26, 10:1, Daniel 7:13 and Revelation 4:2). They were given to us so that we could in some way understand who He is.

Unfortunately our view of God is sometimes limited by visual images and that’s as far as we get in our knowledge and understanding of God. That’s not just a limited view of God, it can lead to a false view.

There’s so much more to God that we can know from a visual image.

Another way that people imagine God is based on their life experiences. Often their view of God as Father is colored by their own experience with their earthly father. If their biological father was kind and loving, then they see God as a kind and loving Father. If their earthly father was judgmental and harsh, that’s how they think of God.

Both extremes are unfortunate. If your father was kind and good, God is a thousand times kinder and better. To equate Him with the kindness and love of your earthly father is to sell God short.

If your earthly father was a tyrant, well that’s not God at all.

We have to divorce our image of God from artistic depictions or even from our earthly experiences. God is far different from either. And when we limit our image of God, the God that we see in our minds, to images and experiences we miss the best of God.

Your mental image of God is important because how you think about God will determine how you respond to God, how you pray, how you trust. It will determine your entire relationship.

Our God is the most loving, the most gracious, the most merciful, the most caring, the most concerned of anyone you will ever encounter. He is the most of anything and everything that is good and right and righteous and just.

He loves you more than anyone will ever love you. He loves you more than you deserve to be loved. He loves you more than you will ever understand.

The same can be said for His grace to you, His mercy towards you, His care for you, and His concern for you.

It’s important to have a mental image of God that is reflective of who He is in all of His Goodness.

It will make all of the difference in your relationship. It will make all of the difference in how you respond.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

The Responsibility of Image Bearers

The subject of the image of God is an interesting and, at the same time, relevant issue for Christians. Without getting into much detail, the Bible teaches the following as it relates to the image of God:

-Man was originally created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27)

-Sin corrupted the image of God in man (Genesis 3)

-We still possess the image of God to some degree (Genesis 9:6, James 3:9)

-Christ is the perfect image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4, Hebrews 1:3)

-Christians are being transformed into the complete image of God (2 Cor 3:18)

-Someday we will once again be in His image (1 John 3:2)

While each of these statements are critical, there is one that is often overlooked, IE that people today still possess the image of God. We are still Image Bearers. Admittedly, not to the degree that Adam was before the fall, but all men still possess the image of God to some degree. That’s why the Old Testament penalty for murder was death – murder is not only the destruction of a life but it is the destruction of the image of God (Genesis 9:6).

The issue of the image of God is not simply a theoretical nor theological one. It is very much at the heart of the Christian faith. Our message is one of redemption, that is, redeeming that which was lost so that it becomes that which God intended. What was lost was the image of God which resulted in a loss of fellowship and relationship with God. Redemption is about Christ who is the perfect image of God (see above) coming to die so that man can be forgiven and started on the road that will lead to a perfectly restored image of God.

But the restoration of the image of God does not stop at salvation. It has profound implications for how we interact in a variety of areas of life such the treatment of diseases, the environment, education, poverty, missions, entertainment, and relationships. Every area of life was adversely affected by the fall and every area of life needs to be redeemed so that the image of God is on perfect display. If the glory of God is the chief end of man (Westminster Shorter Catechism, 1 Corinthians 10:31) it is through the restoration of the image of God that His glory is best revealed.

And that is our responsibility as Image Bearers – to restore the image of God in every area of life to what it should be – all the while knowing that it is a process that will finally be completed in eternity. But that does not stop us now because it is a process of infinite worth as it relates to both God’s general creation and to man His special creation.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve