Two weeks ago, we addressed the difference between knowing about God, and knowing God.
I was given an assignment recently in one of my college classes, and it kinda related to the topic, so I wanted to share it.
I even made reference to Relevant Church, and the difference you have all made in my life:
“Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.” Sad as it may seem, I never even opened the Bible until I was in college! Having grown up in the Catholic church, Catholic teachings were always filtered down to me through workbooks, hymnals, psalms and people. When I was exposed to faiths outside of the Catholic church, I was amazed that some people could quote the Bible, like I could quote a movie!
The image of God was also portrayed to me by the Catholic church, both visually and figuratively. Visually, the image of God, for me, is equivalent to the image of Jesus — a man with long hair, sad eyes and a beard. The picture of perfection that we should all strive to be. But Jesus was the Son of God.
My image of God, as compared to Jesus, is significantly different. Without meaning any disrespect, I see God just as the Wizard of Oz. He can be kind, and he can be punishing. Just as a father to his children, so is God. He offers guidance and support, and punishes his children to teach us right from wrong. The influence of the Catholic church has lead me to portray the image of a God that is very strict, and has many rules. If any of these rules are broken, there will be consequence. God had also been portrayed to me as an untouchable king, someone whom I could never speak to directly, nor could I ever be casual with. I was always very reverent and formal, which created an environment of intimidation and fear.
As I’ve continued to explore more about my faith, it has become less of a religion, and more of a spiritual journey. I feel that the Catholic church, and all its grandeur, has made it to where I’ve always had a very distant relationship with God. I do not believe that I need to confess my sins to a priest in order for God to hear my words and to be forgiven. I believe that I can have a personal, direct relationship with God, at any time of day, any day of the week … not just on Sundays. I’ve also come to believe that church does not always have to be held under a grand display of stained glass windows and a marble alter. The church I attend today is held in the heart of Ybor City. We wear jeans, bring in Starbucks coffee, and feel like we’re at a rock concert. Even still, the message is there, and I receive that message through a channel that appeals to me and that I can understand and relate to.
My spiritual journey continues each day, and there are many things that now influence what my image of God is. My faith and my image of God could be influenced by another individual, a song on the radio, something in the news, or even something as simple as the rays of sunshine peering through the clouds. Each and every day presents a new opportunity to build upon my image of God.