MORE THAN A GOD WE CAN LIVE WITH

An older man I respect once told me something that shocked me: he had a hard time thinking of God as "Father."  In fact, thinking of God as Father actually made it harder to love Him.  This man had been terribly abused by his mother as a child, and his father had just avoided the entire situation by working late, staying away from the house, etc.  So when this man heard "Father," he remembered abandonment, failure, and someone who didn't love him enough to rescue him from his misery.

I've met other people who have similar difficulties loving and trusting God because He calls Himself "Father."  For some this is because their own fathers were alcoholics or verbally and physically abusive.  Others were molested by their fathers.  Some still have no idea who their real fathers are.

In truth, we all have ways in which we aren't comfortable thinking about God for a variety of reasons.  Some people who grew up in churches with abusive church leadership get very uncomfortable with talk about God's power and authority.  Some people are uncomfortable with talk about loving Jesus, or talk about Jesus being "beautiful" because of how they were taught to think about what it means to be a man.  Some are uncomfortable with God as Judge, while others are uncomfortable with God as merciful to those deserving judgment.  Yet get the idea.

One of the hardest things to do as a Christian is to not let the way we think about God become a hidden idol.  I say "hidden" because it might be the last place you would think to look for an idol! After all, we aren't worshiping a false god! However, we may be worshiping a false, or at least limited, understanding of the true God.  We know that man is made in the image of God, yet the real struggle is not to return the favor -- to make God look like us, like someone we could be comfortable with.

We have to fight hard to believe and understand the full self-revelation that God has given us (and even then, that's but a glimpse of who He truly is!).  We have to fight against our own fears, pains, desires, and prejudices that make us want to see God in certain ways, and to not see Him in other ways.

What we truly need as broken, fallen, fractured creatures is the God who is ... and not merely a god who we are comfortable living with in our current condition.