Come to All in Whom the Divine Image is Still Distorted

Reflection by: Anonymous Student

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”  1 John 3: 2-3

“God” means something different to everyone; we all have had different experiences and see God in a different light. However, the experiences in our lives can either help us get a clearer image of God or distort the image and separate us from Him. Our perception of God can have a powerful impact on our lives as described in the Bible. In John’s gospel we read that knowing the true God and Jesus Christ is how we experience eternal life (John 17:3). While Paul warns that if we exchange the truth of God for distorted images of him then our minds will become darkened and we will be ruined by sin (Romans 1:28-31).

Personally, I have searched for the answers to the questions of “Who is God? What does it mean to be a child of God?” What helps me answer these questions is going back to the scriptures to interpret the text and my daily experiences that helped me have a clearer picture. Most importantly, I understand the importance of getting to know myself in order to better understand God. This is an ongoing process, I know that I have a lot to discover about myself, but I understand that every day we have an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and strengthen our relationship with Christ.

When our images of God are distorted, our whole relationship with God can become distorted as well. We may secretly spend our lives cringing, hiding, and running from God, or we can anxiously perform righteousness to earn God’s approval. If we have highly negative images of God, we will most likely experience a great deal of spiritual distress. As mentioned before, it is important to know ourselves and our understandings of God because for every distortion a person has of God there is usually a corresponding self-distortion. If we see God as a vengeful, punishing God, we are likely to see ourselves as bad and deserving of punishment. If we see God as a being that expects too much from us, then we will likely see ourselves as a failure or as not good enough. If we believe that God does nothing for us, then we will likely feel that our lives have no purpose. The many distortions of God separate us from Him. For this reason, it is important to understand why they exist, so that we are able to eliminate them. We pray that God “comes to all in whom the divine image is still distorted,” so that we may understand the great love that He has for each of us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Vices exist in each of us that push us away from God. However, when we identify them and really get to know them, they lose their strength and allow us to strengthen our relationship with God. Each individual carries all of the manifestations of the seven deadly sins: greed, sloth, envy, wrath, pride, gluttony, and lust. At the same time, we are given the ability to transform these into the seven capital virtues: charity, diligence, kindness, meekness, humility, temperance, and chastity. This is the great challenge that we all struggle with throughout our journeys, but we must know that God said “never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He will always be there to guide us in the right path, and help us throughout our struggles. As mentioned above, “all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure” (1 John 3: 2-3).

My prayer for you is the same prayer St. Paul once prayed for the Christians in Ephesus:

 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and establish in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19

God bless each one of you.

Written by an Anonymous Sophomore majoring in Business Administration in Finance.

About I.Q.

Irene began working with St. Mary's University in August of 2008. She currently serves as the Minister for Faith Formation and Faith Enrichment with University Ministry and as adjunct faculty with the Theology Department. Irene holds a M.A. in Systematic & Philosophical Theology and Ethics & Social Theory. As well as a B.A. in Religious Studies and Philosophy.

Posted on December 6, 2013, in Advent Reflection. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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