how we conceptualize God affects what we think the Christian life is about,
our images of God.
~ Marcus Borg* 1942-2015
you ever thought about what your image of God is? There have been lifelong
influences, some more unconscious than others. In your mind does he look like the illustrations
in Children's Bibles, photos of Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling,
the ultimate grandfather or, the ultimate disciplinarian? What about Jesus
as a sun-tanned, blue eyed European with long flowing locks sun-kissed by
expensive-looking highlights or a middle eastern semite, a young Jewish man
from Palestine? And, the Holy Spirit ~ an upside down white dove?
course it's easier to relate to and feel comfortable with someone we can
picture in our minds. Have you ever had the experience of meeting up with
a friend from childhood or schooldays ~ you have that old photo in your mind and suddenly
you're confronted with the reality. Perhaps it all works fine or perhaps
the memory and the reality are difficult to mesh. Just as we watch children
grow from newborns, to toddlers, older children, teens, young adults...and
just as we sometimes want to hold on to them at a certain moment in time, it's important for our relationships with them to grow and allow who they become to deepen our bonds.
we don't have the luxury of knowing what God looks like ~ and if we did, would
it be God? ~ but we can look at how or if our early ideas about the
image of God have or have not evolved and what that means to us about the maturity of our faith.
Sandra Schneiders, IHM, STD, Professor Emerita of New Testament Studies and
Christian Spirituality at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley has said, God
is more than two men and a bird.
Has your Trinity ever looked like two men and a bird in your mind's eye? How does your current mind's image affect your prayer, your relationship, your sense of
who God is in your life?
I'm concerned that
I might have the wrong image of You in my mind. I want so much to
capture the right picture
of You in my imaginings ~ all of You, the Trinity ~ God, Jesus, Holy
Spirit, so that I can feel that I'm relating to You correctly. And yet
somehow that doesn't seem quite right, either. Well then,
for today I'll give up trying
to apply and accept someone else's image of You. I'll take on thinking about how I
am made in Your image rather than You being made in my image. I'll pray for
the security and spiritual freedom to let You out of the box I keep trying to keep You
in. And as I mature in my relationship with You, perhaps I will be able to
realize that all I need to do to know You in my mind and heart and soul, is to look in
the mirror and at all those I meet daily and then I will see the faces of My
*Marcus Borg, was a
Fellow of the Jesus Seminar, and the first person to be designated as
Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State
University. Educated at Moorhead College in Concordia, Minnesota; Union
Theological Seminary, in New York City; he also earned a Masters degree in theology
and a Ph.D. at Mansfield College, Oxford, England. A progressive Christian with
a significant record of scholarship and research on the Historical Jesus, a
prolific author and lecturer, and known internationally through videos,
lectures, and television, Borg was a frequent collaborator with other
theologians with whom he both agreed and disagreed. He remains one of
the most recognized and influential theologians of today. Two
of his best known works are Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus & The Heart of Contemporary Faith; and, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally.
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