Picture any pair of twenty to twenty-five-year-olds. A guy and a girl.
Pretend they’re about to get married and have kids. That as a modern couple they’re planning to share the child-rearing equally.
Now imagine asking each of the couples how many years of babysitting experience they have. A gal typically has 2-5 years. A guy? Typically none.
You can’t really blame the guy. How many of us have ever had any teenage boy who is NOT part of our family babysit our children?
It doesn’t happen.
So should we be annoyed and frustrated when men don’t know how to change a diaper or calm a colicky baby? Why should we expect anything different?
But we’ve all witnessed modern-day husbands & fathers portrayed as lazy, incompetent, and stupid.
The National Fatherhood Institute reports that “Dads were 8 times more likely to be shown in a negative light when compared to moms.”
It matters because the pictures we have of fathers influence our expectations and understandings of what dads can be and ought to be.
Scripture tells us that no one has ever seen God. Nevertheless, we all know what he looks like, right?
God is an old man with a full white beard who wears white. He wears sandals and sports big, bushy eyebrows.
Let’s be honest: God is never presented as a dad changing a diaper, getting up to do a midnight feed, pushing a stroller, or even standing on the sidelines cheering his kids on.
Still. How we picture God influences everything else we understand about him.
In fact, the great theologian A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
Scripture doesn’t give us a picture of God. The bits and pieces we find are mostly about his character. And ultimately that’s more important than his physical features.
Right now we only see God dimly. But ultimately we will get to see the face of God:
What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete—as complete as God’s knowledge of me.
1 Corinthians 13:12 GNT
When you think of God, what do you see?
Does he look like a king on an unapproachable throne? Like a judge at his bench? Like Santa Claus or Kenny Rodgers or Morgan Freeman? Is he a towering figure? Or just an enormous hand descending from Heaven?
Our concept of how God looks often bears little resemblance to our own. Even though scripture repeatedly tells us we have been created in the image of God:
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27 NLT
Should we look in a mirror to understand what God looks like? Perhaps. The Hebrew word for “image” (tselem) means an outline or representation of the original, like how a shadow represents an original.
Better than looking in a mirror, perhaps we ought to turn around and begin looking the other direction.
Today, consider someone you know. Someone you like. What characteristics about them would you consider to be godly? What in them reflects the image of God?
Now consider someone you don’t care for. Someone that bugs you and irritates you. Somebody that grinds your gears.
God sent his only Son to be the atoning sacrifice for their sins. So that they could be redeemed and spend eternity with God. Because that’s how much God loves THEM.
What is it about that person that God could possibly love? What is it about them that reflects the image of God?
It matters because the pictures we form of others influence every part of what our relationship with them can possibly be.
Becoming fascinated by godly things isn’t simply an exercise. It isn’t simply a creative idea.
Is it an image (picture) or is it a being (attitude or act) that He made us to be in likeness? I weigh more to the side of being. How am I being more like God daily!
Hey Jeffery, thanks for the thought. I agree with you about being versus image. Especially considering scriptures that tell us that God is spirit. On the other hand I’m a very visual learner. I often think in concrete pictures. And try as I might to change, I still find myself reacting to other people based on what I see (their image) rather than who they are (their being). Striving to be more like God daily, like you said, includes retraining myself to see people’s hearts instead of their book covers. That means laying down a character trait of my own—judgment—and replacing it with one of God’s—love. And that’s an act of worship. May we all become more like God daily!