The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Learning from the Face of God

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If I were to say, “Imagine God looking at you,” what kind of expression would He have on His face? The color of His hair or skin, the shape of His nose and eyes—these things are irrelevant details. His expression is the important part because how you imagine God looking at you is a reflection of your core beliefs about Him.

We are all walking around with some false beliefs about God. This is alright, because at this stage of our development, none of us can handle the full truth about God. Do you expect a five-year-old to be able to understand the contents of a college textbook? Certainly not. Will her inability to grasp such concepts stunt her development as a child? No. To grow and thrive, a five-year-old doesn’t need to be able to understand college textbooks. So also, to mature and thrive in your walk with God, you don’t need to have a complete grasp of His complexity. But there are other things that you do need to understand right now, and if you don’t understand them, they can stunt your growth. We call these things essential truths about God, and one of them is His view of you.

As a Christian, you need to understand that God loves you, that He wants to have a relationship with you, and that He cherishes you as His child. You also need to understand that God is very compassionate, kind, and gentle. He knows everything about you and He likes knowing you. You aren’t some burden that God got stuck with. You are someone He created on purpose. You are a beautiful creature that He designed to be very attractive to Him. God enjoys relating to you, even though you are just a teensy little thing compared to Him.

God understands that it’s rather difficult for your brain to grasp why He is so interested in you. This is why God calls you His child and He calls Himself your Father. This is why He sent His Son to die on a cross for you. You might have trouble understanding why God loves you so much, but God wants you to be convinced that He does, even if it doesn’t make logical sense to you. After all, our lack of understanding doesn’t change reality. I might not understand why my lungs can’t breathe ocean water or why my feet can’t walk on the surface of the waves, but does my lack of understanding change reality? No, it doesn’t. If I’m going to thrive, I have to accept many realities about the way things work in this world without understanding them. I have to accept that I can’t walk on water, that I can’t breathe underwater, that I can’t stand in the middle of a fire, and that I will plummet downward if I walk off the edge of a cliff. None of us comes close to understanding everything about the world we live in, but we quickly adjust. How much time do you spend worrying if the molecules of the chair you’re sitting on will keep supporting your weight? Do you understand why they don’t just give way beneath you and cause you to fall to the ground? Do you understand why your heart keeps beating or how your brain can instantly know when your toe rams into a wall? You don’t understand these things, but your lack of understanding doesn’t bother you. At this moment in time, you are easily accepting many truths that don’t make sense to you. This is the same attitude you need to take when God says that He loves you so much that He was willing to die for you. This makes no sense to us whatsoever, but there it is. Our Creator is madly in love with us, and at some point we need to just accept this reality even though it doesn’t make logical sense to us.

But for some of us, accepting the truth about God’s love for us just isn’t possible. We might be able to understand how He can love other people, but when it comes to loving us personally, walls fly up in our minds and we adamantly reject this idea. Why? Because deep in our souls, we have already accepted other facts about God—facts which are not true at all, but they have become true to us because we have accepted them wholeheartedly. If you currently find it impossible to grasp that God loves you in a passionate, personal way, it is because you are hanging onto lies about His Character: lies which completely counter what He says about Himself. These lies must be identified, countered, and rejected if you are going to become receptive to God’s truths. But how do you identify what those lies are? You will find them all revealed to you in the face of God.

How you picture God is a reflection of what you believe about Him deep in your soul. To flesh out the lies you’re hanging onto about Him, take a moment to pull up some very negative memories of your own life. Remember a time that you felt heartbroken, abandoned, rejected, lonely, or ugly. Remember a time when you were crying or feeling terribly afraid or getting attacked by someone else. God says He is always with you, so what was He doing in each of those moments? Take time to go through each of your worst memories and imagine God being with you. When you were getting attacked, what was He doing? Was He standing protectively by your side and glaring at your attacker, or was He standing next to them and cheering them on? How do you imagine God responding to you being in deep grief? Do you picture Him right there with His arms around you and His eyes filled with grief as well? Or do you picture Him rolling His eyes in annoyance or standing at a distance with His arms crossed? What about when you’re afraid? Is God scoffing at you or is He moving close and gently kissing you? What about when people are making fun of you? Is God laughing with them or is He standing in front of you telling you not to listen to their stupid words? When it comes to imagining how God interacts with you, there are right and wrong answers. If your images of God reveal a Being who is hostile, indifferent, scoffing, and mean, then there are some major problems with your theology. This is not who God is. As a Christian, you are God’s dearly loved child. Do your personal images of God affirm this truth or do they reject it? If we could record all your mental pictures and play them for a stranger, what kinds of conclusions would that person draw about how God feels about you? Your images of God should be the kind that would make a stranger know without a doubt that God is deeply in love with you, and that His love for you is extremely passionate and personal. If that’s where you’re at, then you are on the right track about God’s love and you can stop reading this post.

If instead, your images are the kind which would make a stranger conclude that God is disinterested in you, repulsed by you, or that He gets off on hurting you, then keep reading.

IDENTIFYING LIES ABOUT GOD

Once you realize that you are harboring very negative images of God’s face, the next step is to identify why you believe He is acting so hostile towards you. Now it is very natural for humans to view God as a deified version of their earthly guardians. This means that if you were raised by people who found you disgusting, then you are going to automatically transfer those same feelings onto God and assume that He also finds you repulsive. If your humans didn’t want you, then you’ll naturally assume that God doesn’t either. Ask yourself this question: “Is God acting like any humans I have known?” Think about all the images of God you have thought up as you tried to picture how He has interacted with you in your darkest days and most vulnerable moments. Is His behavior striking some familiar cords? What human faces come to mind when you compare the way God treats you to the way other people treat you? Write those names down and think about how important those people’s opinions were to you. It is very natural to transfer the attitudes of people onto God, but of course this is not correct. Once we realize that we are making false assumptions about God based on experiences we’ve had with people, we take a big step forward in being able to let go of some of our false assumptions about Him.

Now sometimes the negative attitudes we project onto God aren’t based on human experiences, but on our own fears and insecurities. Get out a piece of paper and think about the negative scenes you’ve pulled up about you and God. Briefly describe what God is thinking in each scene. Be sure to explain WHY He feels the way He does. For example:

God is laughing at me as I cry because He enjoys seeing me hurting.
God is making fun of me when I’m afraid because He thinks I’m a pathetic loser.
God is helping my father beat me because He thinks I am worthless trash.
God is shoving me away from Him because He thinks I’m too disgusting to touch.

Now look at the statements you’ve come up with. Can you identify the lies that are driving these statements? As a Christian ANYTHING that makes you feel unwanted and rejected by God is a LIE. It is vital that you identify what is wrong with the conclusions you are drawing about how God views you.

Now demons are the ones helping you come up with these negative images and demons are chronic liars. Whenever possible, they will try to get you to believe a complete reversal of truth. You now need to flip their lies around to get back to the truth. For example:

God is laughing at me as I cry because He enjoys seeing me hurting.

This might feel like a very strong image in your mind, but it is a complete deception. God does not find the suffering of His kids to be amusing. Does God enjoy the suffering of His enemies? Absolutely. Does He enjoy torturing souls who end up in Hell because they refused to submit to Him? Yes, He does. But it’s important to keep things in perspective here: when the souls in Hell were still on earth, God was very compassionate towards them and He gave them countless chances to come to Him. It’s not like God is hating these people without cause: they willfully defied Him their entire lives. Is this you? No, it isn’t. If you are a Christian in God’s eyes, then your submission to Jesus wasn’t just a bunch of shallow lip service. You meant what you said and you sincerely submitted to God. Once you are a Christian, you move into a very different place with God. He has forgiven all of your sins and accepted you as His child for eternity.

As long as we keep calling lies truth, it is very difficult for us to get freed up from their poisonous influence. We need to identify lies for what they are and then we need to counter them with positive truths. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you identify and counter lies about how God views you. He will do it, and as your negative image of God turns positive, it will change your entire life.

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