Well, friends, it is on to a new week of class and a whole new round of thinking. This week's class is "Self In Community". I invite you to share the journey with me through some posts this week. I have no idea what this class is about- something to do with self and community. When I get the picture, I'll let you know!
We did a thought-provoking exercise in class today. The professor had us make a list of names/images of God used in Scripture. We took at least 15 minutes giving suggestions while one of the students wrote them on the board. Our list easily contained 50 items, and could have included many more. Then, in reflecting on the whole list, we were asked to consider which ONE of these was God. (Hmm- none of them and all of them is the best I could think of) And then we were asked how many of these were metaphors. (Hmm- pretty much all of them!) And finally, the kicker question- How many of these images are YOUR image of God?
Here was the point for me- with a list of over 50 images of God, I have three, maybe four of them that are really central to my way of knowing and approaching God. If I'm honest, I have easily a dozen of these images that I rarely if ever think about, and I have several more that I try NOT to think about when it comes to God. So if my image of God is formed primarily by 3 out of 50 God-images in Scripture, how accurately do I know God? It's not that my image is flawed- but perhaps wildly incomplete. This leads me to a few conclusions:
1. We need to have much more humility when we speak of God. He is far bigger and far greater than we can fit into our concepts of deity. In many ways, it is very freeing to begin worshiping a God that is far greater than I can imagine.
2. We need others to help us see God. I am constantly amazed how different God looks through other people's lens. And yet, how often do I surround myself with people who think just like me? If we want to grow in our knowledge and love of God, we have to willingly seek out Christ-followers who have a different perspective. This can begin to fill out our picture of God.
3. We need to continually be passionate seekers. The moment we think we've cornered the market on God and got him figured out is the moment we need to start over again and realize how little we know. I have been challenged through this seminary experience to read church fathers, men who are revered for their faith, and see how frequently they expressed their inability to know God fully. Somehow, in their confession of ignorance, they were free to continue pursuing a fuller reality of God in their lives.
So, how about you? What images make up your picture of God? Have you ever had an experience where you realized how little you actually knew?
May you know that God is bigger than your imagination, and may this draw you to continue pursuing His glory and splendor-