My image of God
My image of God today started out with the wrong impression I had of Him. Yet, my introduction to God propelled me to search for the truth about Him, and how I should visualize Him in my mind. You may have some memories of many years ago that you could recall as if it happened recently. Because it has significance, it, therefore, has a lasting impression on your mind namely, when you remember an incident that occurred more than 20 years ago, yet forget something that happened a few weeks earlier? About the age of five, I had my first introduction to God’s existence and the image I formed in my mind of Him.
As I recall this memory, it is still evident today. I remember that my mom and I visited a friend. Upon arrival, I could see a woman crying. Everyone had sadness written all over them. I asked my mom why they were sad and this is what she said, “God came to fetch this baby so that it could live in heaven with Him.” I guess I tried to make sense of what she said by using my imagination.
The image of God as fear
Why does God give someone a baby just to take it away from its mother? In my five-year-old imagination, I envisioned a prominent God figure, “stretching his hand from heaven and plucking this baby from its mother.” I perceived God as a fearsome and unfair entity. Fear was my first impression of a God I did not know or understand. I formed the wrong idea of God and the wrong kind of fear of Him. I wanted to learn more about God, yet in many ways, I was running from Him.
Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who live by it have insight, His praise endures forever!“
I visited various churches and church groups over the years and heard that He is a God of love. Desperate and frustrated, I wanted to attempt suicide again as fear and anxiety plagued me. Later, I responded to the message of salvation during my youth in Cape Town, South Africa. It was in 1986 when I cried out one night to God.
I asked Him to reveal Himself to me, and God answered me. It was the next evening when a group of young people spoke about Jesus in a prayer meeting as if they were answering the questions I asked God the night before. When they made the altar call, I remember being the first one to signal that I wanted to accept Jesus into my life. I knew at that moment that God does love me and did hear me.
It starts with surrender
Surrender and repentance at the altar is just the beginning of salvation. For me, there was still fear, anxiety, and later depression that continued to follow me. People prayed with me and for me as I realized I needed help. I thought the prayers of strong Christians were enough to help me. I later discovered that I am personally responsible for my recovery and walk of faith. A relationship with God is through Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You are responsible for your spiritual connection and the attitude of your heart – not the pastor or the church.
My mom is now a dedicated believer, as well as other members of my family. She keeps me in prayer and is a pillar of strength to me. It took me years to realize that I needed a relationship and fellowship with God, even as a born-again Christian.
Spend time in prayer and read the bible
Quoting a few scriptures and attending a church assembly is not the same as a relationship with God. Many people call themselves Christians yet do not know much about God. Jesus calls us to be disciples. You need to spend quality time with God in prayer and read the Bible as an act of worship. You can still live in defeat as a Christian when you do not live a consecrated and righteous life. The world’s cares will weigh you down if you do not give yourself over to living the way Jesus lived on the earth.
Pray without ceasing, pray until things change, and then keep praying. You can achieve this when you pray or are mindful of the Holy Spirit in every area of your life. He will guide you in every situation when you ask Him. Renew your mind from the pattern of the worldly ways by reading the Bible. All scripture is God-breathed for you to comprehend what the will of God is for your life.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17.
Peace, be still
Live with the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. The pressures of this world will fade and will not seem impossible to handle. You will not readily think of giving up, paralyzed by fear, when challenges come. There will always be challenges whether you are a believer or not. The difference as a believer is that you know how to pray with the right attitude. You believe that God is with you in every situation and that He answers your prayers. Then the peace of God will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ.
It makes all the difference as a believer who lives in hope and does not give up. Our hearts will not fail us even though we see destruction and violence around us. The only way to live today is to live in spirit and truth. Stay in a committed relationship with God’s Holy Spirit, who will guide you in mind – into all truth. Difficulties will come, but it will change when you start making the change within yourself.
The right image of God
Most people work on improving outward influences. They change jobs, friends, surroundings, hairstyles, or clothes. Generally, these are all outer changes that only make a temporary difference. Soon you start looking at something else to change. When you work on inner transformation, the outward changes will not be as important. The change should begin within you. The impression I now have of God is of a righteous, caring, holy, and loving Father. Previously, the whole earth was under a generational curse due to the original sin in the Garden of Eden. Jesus broke the curse of the law through His death on the cross. My image of God is the image of Jesus Christ.
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us – as it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” Galatians 3: 13.
To enumerate, the first step to renewing your mind is to do introspection. When I prayed and asked God to reveal the areas in my life that needed change, I became aware of my shameful, appalling behavior. It was like looking into a mirror and seeing how tarnished I was for the first time. So much of my actions were inconsistent with the character of Jesus, yet I could not admit it before. As you adopt the nature and attitude of Jesus, the renewal process changes you into His likeness.
Your identity is not the distorted interpretation of so-called “famous” people. These false images of perfection focus on the self and keep you away from discovering your real identity. You are bought with the blood of Jesus. You are not your own. Introspection is not a once-off occurrence, alternatively, for me, this is a daily exercise.
Becoming more like Jesus is an act of worship