It is easy to make God in our own image. We feel a need to create a picture of who God is that fits our needs and situation. We don't intend to do it, but it is the natural outflow of attempting to understand the "otherness" of God with the limitations of our vocabulary. (For a really good examination of some of these constructs, J.B. Phillip's book "Your God is Too Small" can be eye-opening but should also be read critically.)
This self-construction of God can lead to sweeping condemnation of that which is different from our understanding. It can be used to justify actions and opinions in such a way to shut down dialogue with those who think differently. It can also result in disappointment if God does not operate according to our user's manual.
There is often a point when the "rubber meets the road" and we our confronted with whether our beliefs are solid, or if we have added to or diminished our understanding of God. It is often in the moments of crisis that we are forced to weigh those decisions. Scripture uses the picture of a refiner's fire burning off the dross in our lives to bring out the precious treasure that lies underneath. (Malachai 3) I believe that moments of crisis are also a refiner's fire for our belief system. It serves as a moment of burning away the things that we have created, leaving us with more and more of the precious treasure of who God truly is that has been hidden in our construction of God.
I recently read an account of an event that many in evangelical circles are suspicious of legitimacy of the actions that happened. The person giving the account, someone known to me who I trust, was saying that if she had just read what had happened to her in a report she would have dismissed it, but she could not deny what had happened. She had experienced a moment (in my words) of having some of the dross of her belief system burned away to see more of God. That removal of extra explanation about our beliefs happens in different ways for different people. But it is always to give us a clear understanding of who God wants to be in our life. Then we will be able to hold onto those things with more intent.
“I know a lot less about God, but the things I know about God, I know a whole lot more, for sure.”
~ Steven Curtis Chapman, on Larry King Live after the death of his 5-year-old daughter, Maria~
Father God, as you confront me with the things I have added to my understanding of you in an attempt to easily contain my knowledge, give me the courage to let you burn those things away. He me to know the things I know more certainly and to let go of things that I do not need to know. Let me know the precious treasure of you. Amen.
This week's hostess is Jen at Scraps and Snippets. Go, visit and read the posts. You may be challenged, you will be blessed.