By Bill Gaultiere © 2011
Your image of God is the most important aspect of your psychological makeup. Probably, like most people, you’ve picked up some damaging distortions in your heartfelt understanding of God. This especially happens when we experience emotional wounds or deficits in childhood and then project these onto God.
We need the Word of God to wash our minds and help in healing our image of God (Ephesians 5:26).
Six Gospel Pictures for Healing our Image of God
Dr. Luke has been long appreciated as the iconographer of the Bible for the powerful images of God that he records in his Gospel from Jesus’ ministry. Here are six of these pictures for healing our image of God. Meditate on these Scriptures to experience more of God’s love and be prepared to share it with other people. By stepping into these story lines you can learn to keep a redeeming picture of God at the forefront of your mind and to live by it’s loving message.
For each Biblical picture from Luke there is a common emotional struggle and a corresponding untrue and harmful projection onto God. Many people we talk with struggle with one or more of these distorted images of God. To renew your mind in Jesus’ Gospel story you need to get in touch with what you need and how you’re hurting and share this with Christ and his ambassadors.
Jesus is Born of a Virgin
I am not alone:
Emmanuel is with you (Luke 1:38, 2:40)
Maybe you feel that you have to face the difficulties of life alone. Or that huge waves of temptation overwhelm you. It may seem that God isn’t really with you to help you with your pain and problems.
Join Mary’s faith and take the Son of God into your heart (Luke 1:38). He has come to earth as a vulnerable infant and he learned to grow in the Father’s grace, even as he experienced the hardest and most painful things that a person can go through (Luke 2:40). Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us — he understands our human experience and he gives us the strength to overcome.
Jesus is Merciful to Sinners
I am not condemned:
Jesus accepts me as I am (Luke 7:36-50)
Maybe you feel inadequate. Maybe you live with an “internal critic” that condemns you. If so at times in your life it has probably felt like God is judging you harshly.
Step into the gospel story of Jesus at a gathering of Pharisees and despite their objections he receives a sinful woman who falls at his feet weeping with gratitude for his forgiveness and love (Luke 7:36-50). See how tenderly Jesus accepts her.
Jesus Finds Lost Sheep
I am not rejected:
Good Shepherd holds me close to his heart (Luke 15:4-6)
Perhaps you have struggled with feeling unwanted or alone. Maybe you have longed for a parent or loved one to take initiative to express personal care and love for you. Maybe you feel that the real you on the inside is not really known. In that case it may seem to you that God overlooks you or is distant emotionally.
Open your heart anew to Jesus as your Good Shepherd. He searches for lost sheep – not only those who need initial salvation from sin, but also those who are emotionally disconnected (Luke 15:4-6). Thank the Lord that he seeks to find and know you.
Jesus says God is our Abba Father
I don’t have to prove my worth:
God is a gracious Father to me (Luke 15:11-32)
If you live with pressure to prove yourself – to try harder and do better – then you’re likely to perceive God as having high expectations for you.
Try seeing yourself in Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son. The Prodigal Son wanted his inheritance before his father died because he was eager to get out and show the world that he could make it big on his own. He ended up in a pigsty! Then he shuffled home with his head hung in shame. But look at his father – your Father! – running to embrace you! He welcomes you home and lavishes you with loving gifts.
Jesus Loves Little Children
I’m not too needy:
The Lord is compassionate with me (Luke 18:15-17)
Maybe you try not to be vulnerable, or emotional. If caregivers and loved ones have been impatient with you then you may feel as if you are “too needy” or “too sensitive.” Probably at times it seems that God is impatient with you.
Recall the Gospel stories of Jesus making time to receive the children: he embraced them, listened to them, and encouraged them (Luke 18:15-17). By prayerfully meditating on this scene you can bring the “inner child” part of you to Jesus to rely on his compassion in a deeper way.
Jesus and his Kingdom are at Hand
I don’t have to make things happen:
The risen Christ is here to help me (Luke 24:36-40)
You may tend to feel that you have to rely on yourself in life, like you can’t count on others to help you. God may seem distant or preoccupied.
Learning to trust and rely on God with you begins with reminding yourself that the risen Christ is right beside you. His kingdom is all around you – it’s just far off and way later – and you can step into it. After he was crucified Christ rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples (Luke 24:36-40) and he breathed his Spirit on them to emphasize that he will never leave us. This is true for you too so imagine it and appreciate it as often as you can.
My book, You Can Live in Jesus’ Easy Yoke will help you renew your image of God and grow in his grace.
“Soul Shepherding is for you and your ministry”
Bill Gaultiere, PhD & Kristi Gaultiere, PsyD ~ Soul Shepherding ~ Irvine, CA