On the Use of Imagery

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When dealing in spiritual matters, it seems best to me to use the imagery that works to bring you into the presence of God and to keep you from sin. For some, that image is a stern Father whose discipline is swift and sure, but whose love is nevertheless there. Others prefer the image of King and sovereign. Some may have other images that they cling to.

In many cases the images of authority, rightful though they are, do nothing to prevent me from sinning, and may actually encourage it. The idea of a holy and righteous person translated to human terms often comes down to one who wishes to impose a ridiculous and arbitrary system of rules and measures that have nothing to do with reality. (In a very mild sense I am a rebel, I suppose.)

The image that is most effective for me in preventing sin is the image of a deeply loving Father in heaven who can be hurt by what I choose to do. Imagine how you would feel if your own mother or father could see everything you do. Would you do all of it? What things might you choose not to do? This is the image I use to help me in temptation. And it still doesn't work very well; however, the instant the "traffic cop" God crosses my mind, I start jaywalking--just a visible sign of the flaw created in me by the fall.

So my advice to each person is to choose the image of God that most speaks to you. Acknowledge that all are true images, if limited in a way that God is not, but meditate and focus on the one image that most helps you to move toward God. Also realize that through time the image the helps your meditation and aids in resisting temptation will change. At one time it may be loving father, at another just judge. There is nothing wrong with changing images or clinging to an image, so long as you bear in mind that any single image, or even all the images you can bring to mind at once, do not begin to touch the truth that is God. The images are mere aids, to be cast aside when their usefulness has gone. The important thing is to find a way to increase your love and desire for God and to move steadily ever closer.

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How true!

Nice. Cut & saved this.

I have been contemplating this all day, and admit that I don't have a clear image of God. Not in human terms anyway - like a stern father, or mentor or whatever. I have a hard time imagining human factors applied to God. I believe God is all-knowing and all-powerful, has always been and always will be, and by definition (I think) transcends our ability to understand, with out minds, his true nature.

Thanks for spurring more thought on this, Steven.

Dear Mr. Bogner,

I will point out that the series of attributes you have named is still an image of God--it is an abstract impressionist image, but nevertheless suffices to meet the definition. If this suffices to move you toward Him, so be it. However, it is not improper to think of God in human terms; after all, one of the points of the Incarnation was to give us an image of God that had human boundaries. So, I would say if you have trouble conceiving of God in human terms, you would do well to look upon Jesus for some time. Perhaps your image would change a bit--you wouldn't be looking at Father or Traffic Cop, but perhaps Big Brother, Lord, Suffering Servant, or any number of other just and correct attributes of the human face of God.

Just some thoughts.




People like you drive people like me, who get giddy with glee at the sound of a pair of heels clicking smartly, crazy.

For penance, I suggest that you polish all the buttons on your uniform twice a day instead of once a day! Vat?!? You don't haf a uniform?!? Vat is ze Weldt coming to zat ze museum scientifiker does not vear uniform?!? Ach!

Steven - Once again, thanks for your thoughts. When you said 'imagery of God' I wasn't thinking of the imagery of Jesus. Looking back at it, I've kept the two images separate. I have all kinds of Jesus-images in mind, but never connected those images to an image of God. Not explicitly anyway.

Steve B



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on December 18, 2003 8:03 AM.

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