Monday, November 24, 2008

Made in God's image

Sorry to single you out again, debby, but your comment sparked another series of thoughts for me. You mentioned that your role as a mother is part of your connection to knowing/understanding God. In some ways it sounded like this was a treasured epiphany for you, but in other ways you almost sounded guilty, like it cheapens God's love to compare it to our own.

I don't think that's the case at all. Christians believe that we are created in the image of God, and although there's dispute over exactly what that means, it should at least give us peace that our own thoughts, relationships and concepts aren't laughably inept and petty to God. In some mysterious way, some "image", we and God share the same experience.

Our human role of parent is often very useful to me in thinking of the divine role of creator. You see, in our Western form of Christianity we are told that the entire purpose of the universe is to glorify God. In fact, just yesterday at church a man gave a short talk about how the entire point of Jesus' life was to bring glory to the Father. Here we inevitably get back to the Trinitarian concepts that do nothing for me (wasn't Jesus really glorifying himself, if he was God?), but the man's central message was that it's all about God.

Eastern Orthodox churches have a different picture of creation. They look at God as other-oriented, at His core. This was reflected in the life of Jesus, who spent his few years of ministry healing, teaching and loving people. There's no evidence that Jesus was doing this primarily as a self-focused exercise. He genuinely cared about the people of his time, and did his best to serve them. As his core, he was other-oriented.

So compare these two pictures of God from the West and from the East -- the creator making it for his own glory, and the creator who is other-oriented and sharing something beautiful with creations he loves. Quite different pictures... are they mutually exlusive? I don't know!

What I do know is that the Eastern view of God actually meshes better with my own experience as a father. I didn't have children with the main purpose to create a generation that would take care of me. It wasn't about me receiving service or praise from little ones. No, when Jamie and I decided it was time to start a family, the reason was something much more indefinable. It was just time. We were ready to share our home, and our very selves, with new family members. We were ready to create life and nurture it, watch it grow with excitement and concern, and then one day release it to find its way in this crazy and fun universe.

So I wonder if the "why" of creation, for God, is something similar. I wonder if that's part of his image we inherited. Maybe he didn't make this whole thing just so that he'd be praised. Maybe it was something tougher to put a finger on, and it was just time. Maybe he wanted others to share in this thing called life, and then after it's over, he'll move us on to the next adventure and once again watch with excitement, concern and pride, like any good parent would.

In the end, is it still all about God? Perhaps so. But my perception of what that means has really changed over time.


Debby said...

I actually believe the man who gave the short talk in your church was incorrect. The point of Jesus' 30-some years on this planet was to draw us closer to God. What a strange thing to say. I couldn't have kept my own mouth shut.

I believe that we are to glorify God, and we glorify him best as we draw near to him.

I am glad for this post, because I worried after I posted my comment. These are things that I can't talk about in my church setting. People get real touchy about 'new age' and 'designer God' and things like that. I think what I think, and I keep it to myself. Usually. Except when you or Don get me going.

MamaRose said...

Well, as you put it, I believe 'IT IS ALL ABOUT GOD'--that He DID make us FOR HIS GLORY & IF we don't figure that out--I don't think it's THAT EASY to figure out, because even growing up 'in a conservative church' NO ONE EVER 'told' it to me THAT EXACT!!!!

Anyway, IF we don't figure it out--THE EARTH CRIES OUT HIS GLORY--that's out of the Psalms--so, it's happening, EVEN IF we don't 'figure it all out'!!!!!!!!!

And, I don't think ANY of us will EVER figure it ALL out--here on Earth, anyway--BUT, that's part of WHY He put us here, too--TO TRY!!!

That's what I believe, anyway, today at 56 years old & as I age & get wiser, I hope, I DO change my mind on SOME things--I DO try to KEEP AN OPEN MIND--otherwise, I'd be 'saying'/by my actions, that I ALREADY KNEW IT ALL & I KNOW I DON'T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To SHARE THANKSGIVING & a BIG BD, TOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE YA'LL BUNCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mom

James W said...

Well I think if we look into the Bible we see that both views are correct. I think this is where you really start seeing the trinity come into play. If you look in Exodus 20 it talks about God being a jealous God, but if you look in John 13 you see the commpassion and the love for others. We are not wired to fully understand this concept because it does not make since to be 3 in 1. We try to do like we do with everything else and put a single label on it and say this is the only way.

Logan said...

I think humanity's perception of God changes as humanity matures...trying to reconcile the monstrous God of the Bible with the One who is Love I find to be a useless exercise...instead I understand the former as a primitive understanding of divinity, and the latter a far more mature, better developed one. Many mystics throughout history have understood humanity-and possibly the universe-being literally born of God, not simply "created"-an understanding that has made a large impact on me personally.

Anonymous said...

First time here...Love the post.

I've often thought that my role as a father helps me understand how God sees us a little better.

Of course, with my finite mind, it's impossible to truly comprehend the vastness of God...but since He's the one that created me, I think He's aware of my limitations. To try and understand him through my own experiences is like my son trying to understand me by "playing Daddy". I know he doesn't get it right most of the time, but yet there is still something endearing about watching him try. The fact that my son wants to be like me--and goes to great lengths to accomplish this--trumps the fact that he doesn't understand the reasons behind my actions.

Simplistic? Perhaps.

Redlefty said...

You guys are taking the ball and rolling with it, as usual!


Don said...

I like what you've said here. It is a very interesting thing to consider. Got to ponder it some more.

Logan said...

I think we need an update on this blog... :-)

LisaS said...

hmm - just hmmm :)