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Last month Patti and I went to a spiritual conference. I’m pretty sure it’s been almost 20 years since we’ve gone to an event like that. Without exaggerating, I’m guessing I attended close to 50 conferences in the ‘90s. When you get your fill of something, it usually quenches your appetite for that kind of fare for quite a while.

Anyway, I recently fulfilled a desire on my bucket list: I met Richard Rohr. With as many books of his that I have read, and all of the hours I have spent listening to his CDs and podcast, he was just as I imagined (maybe a little shorter in stature, but otherwise spot on). I did get in a few private words and a couple of pictures with him, but there were about 500 people at this conference. The man was spread thin.

I took lots of notes, but one small phrase has continued to lap in my mind-pool:

Our image of God creates us.

It’s messed with me because I’ve never really had that thought before. I’ve always taught that our image of and experience with our parents directly affects our views of God, but this thought by Father Richard is something else. It removes us from being judge and jury in regards to how we think about God. We stop treating God like he’s the critical spectator, and we take it to another level. How we think about God has everything to do with what kind of people we are, and that’s a whole different conversation altogether.

I don’t know if you realize it or not, but we’re prone to keep these kinds of probes into our God consciousness at manageable distances. It’s much easier for us to render a judgment on God’s character based upon our circumstances than to come to terms with a benevolent God regardless. We seem to do it all the time. Many of us believe that God is good only because he gives us what we want… when we want it… how we want it, etc. Yes, this is part of our dualistic upbringing, but it has us all over the board in regards to coping with a “moody” God.

img_6460If Jesus was God with skin (and I definitely believe he was), there seems to be a huge discrepancy with how all the various writers compiled in our sacred text describe God’s mood and disposition. Us deciding God’s overall mood and character based upon a negative experience in our lives or a caustic theological paradigm hanging on a single biblical nail is a horrible tactic. There are a lot of factors involved, but surely we understand that all the stuff in our heads (theology, tradition, religion, trauma, happiness, life and death) trickles down into how we live, how we are, and how we view ourselves and others.

Let me wrap up with this final observation: there should be some semblance between our image of God and how we see ourselves. I can only speak for myself, but my God image is beyond positive. I don’t have an adequate vernacular to fully describe how I feel about His grace, love, and acceptance for me. With that being said, I’m challenged to really evaluate my “way” with those I encounter. If Rohr is right (I am totally convinced he is) there should be proof in the pudding. So, I’m asking myself the following things:

Subconsciously and practically, when people encounter me, do they encounter grace? Charity? Hope? Love? Forgiveness? Acceptance? Creativity? Truth? Kindness? Tolerance? Peace? Joy? Humility? Goodness? Gentleness?

Do they get what is real, and not religious pretense or some bible quote that supposedly fixes everything? Can people smell His embrace from near or far wafting off of my life? Do people sense their own value because the air is charged with my preference for them?

Awkward questions to ask here, but definitely necessary.

If you tracked with these questions, I just revealed the core of my God image. Supposedly… hopefully… it is creating me. The passion for these things is there. Maintaining the right image of Him can only help me do the work. I desperately need the right template for healthy development.

What image do you hold of God? Remember, whatever it is, it’s creating you.

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!

Mike

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Sara Almond
    February 24, 2017 at 9:12 am

    How incredible, Papa! I am so glad you got the chance to meet Rohr, thanks for sharing your wisdom nuggets.

  2. Justine Zins
    February 24, 2017 at 10:37 am

    I loved this. So good. Thanks for sharing, Papa Mike.

  3. February 24, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Mike, I’m a fan of Ron Rolhauser, too. I’ve found, through my own experience and personal ministry and counseling, the BIGGEST obstacle to overcome, before we even start to think about Jesus or evangelization, is to start with a simple question: Can you tell me of your image of God?
    Of course, we know God is so much bigger than anything we could ever imagine, but their image isn’t loving, compassionate and forgiving, we have to start by working on that image first. My spiritual director had me write words that describes God. Then, he gave me Scripture passages to either confirm or clarify who God is (to the best image of God).
    Then, I eventually had to write a love letter from God to me. HOW POWERFUL! It took me the entire weekend Retreat to jot it down, I put my pen to the paper and wasn’t even aware of what was flowing from my pen. When I finished, I sat back and re-read my letter. It was a gift to me through the Holy Spirit. I still have that letter. It was a life changer.

    • February 24, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Margaret… this is so stinking awesome! Love it!

  4. Jon Egan
    February 24, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    Love it

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • February 25, 2017 at 7:47 am

      Of course… you were there! ;>)

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