Tuesday, 17 January 2017 17:19

Creating a God in God’s own image

Written by  Harold Bales

Late 19th and early 20th century German playwright Frank Wedekind became quotable for one sentence. Alluding to the statement in Genesis that humankind was created in God’s own image, Wedekind wrote: “God made man in his own image and man returned the favor.” There is no doubt that lots of talk about God is the projection of human tendencies upon God.

What human being does not harbor a grievance and desire for revenge for some real or imagined action or insult?

What human being does not have a bright side and also a dark side? We love and we work to cultivate a peaceable kingdom. But we also condemn and destroy.

What human being is without occasional episodes of jealousy?

Does anyone doubt the human inclination to engage in conflict? Blood seems to boil at a very low temperature for many. This can lead to a herd mentality, mass hysteria and war. History is replete with examples. And the past century is evidence that we are not outgrowing this pattern, but rather are finding new ways to foster barbarism.

So, when we think about God, we sometimes have an almost irresistible desire for a God who is most like us when we are at our worst. We want our God to have a hard edge and get things straightened out, right this very minute. This “getting it fixed” strategy is mostly something we want applied to other folk, not ourselves.

Mostly we want a God who shares our opinions, grants our wishes and otherwise leaves us undisturbed in our habits. It is no wonder that one favorite image is that of a wise, old grandfather with a few charming eccentricities, an occasional expression of endearing grumpiness, and an inclination to dote on his children and grandchildren.

Now, I’m not saying that I speak for anyone else, but if I could create God, I would want the following to be the image of that God:

• Imaginative and creative, active and with a clear purpose. I want a God who is heading somewhere good.

• Fair and just to a fault. I want a God who can be trusted to treat every person right.

• Compassionate and caring. Give me a God who has a good bedside manner when I am ill. I want a God who can reassure me that I’m in good hands and whatever happens, I’ll be okay.

• Always ahead of me in every way. I want a God who knows stuff that I don’t know. And that is enough for me to know. I don’t need a God who is not as smart as me.

• Loving and true. I want a God who has genuine affection for me. I don’t want to have to wonder about this.

I could go on and on about this, but you get the point. You make your own list about your image of God. Then check it against the profile of Jesus.

Harold Bales is a retired Methodist minister who lives in Concord. He enjoys hearing from his readers, so send him an e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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