Where does your picture of God come from?
Lesson 13 from The HOPE Study Guide
For man was created to love God and to be loved by God.
– The HOPE, Chapter 2
OBSERVE & CONSIDER
How we perceive a person inevitably influences the way we respond to that person. For instance, if you learned from a co-worker that your supervisor was very angry with you, how do you suppose you would feel to see him (or her) suddenly appear at the doorway of your office?
Or, if you were driving down the street and listening to some of your favorite music and you saw a police car approaching from behind with lights flashing, would you immediately look at your speedometer to make sure you were not breaking the law? If you’re like most people, you would.
In the same way, your perception of God will most likely determine your immediate response to Him. We saw the line above from The HOPE in an earlier lesson, but didn’t dwell on it then. But because this simple statement is so significant, let’s look at it again and delve more deeply into what it means to us. If this statement is true, then it becomes a foundation for every other truth we’ll consider in our study of God’s story through the HOPE. If it is not true, then you could hardly be blamed for abandoning this endeavor here and now.
The proof of this excerpt from The HOPE cannot be effectively made with just a few Bible verses. That is why The HOPE was created, and that is why this study guide was written. Only when a person truly considers the whole of God’s story as it is recorded for us in the Bible, is it possible to begin to understand the truth of a verse like 1 John 4:8 which so simply states, “God is love.”
Think about that verse for a moment. It doesn’t say that God loves, but rather that God is love. God loves because He is love. God does nothing that somehow does not involve His love, for love is who He is.
Of course, while an in–depth study of God’s story may help a person grow in their conceptual understanding of His love, it is only by experiencing God’s love in the ups and downs and ins and outs of life that His love becomes intimately real to us. Each of us needs this truth to be etched in our soul in such a way that it erases whatever distorted picture we might have of God, and replaces it with one that is right and true. Until we know Him as He truly is, we will not respond rightly to Him.
ASK & REFLECT
- How do you see or perceive God today? Do you see Him like the angry boss or the police officer we considered at the beginning of the lesson? Do you see Him as a loving father or a friend? How do you perceive God at this very moment? Think about it before you respond.
- Where did this picture of God come from? How will it affect the way you respond to God today?
- Would you say that you are experiencing the love of God in your life at this moment? Why or why not? What experiences in your past contribute to your present experience?
DECIDE & DO
The questions above deserve more than a few minutes’ consideration. Perhaps you should commit whatever time is necessary to ponder these questions and work through your response. You might even want to journal your thoughts.
Ask God to show you how your picture of Him might be distorted. Ask Him to paint for you a picture that is true. And remember, such a masterpiece could take a lifetime – and it would be time well spent!