“How then were your eyes opened?” they asked. – John 9:10
I have loved Jesus my whole entire life. Not always faithfully. Not always traditionally. But alway in my heart.
That doesn’t mean that I see things as I should. I’ve been blinded by my own views and ignorant to thinking things could be different.
Earlier this year I was teaching my daughter’s sixth grade confirmation class on the topic “Is God male?”. Me – I had always viewed God as an old man. One with a beard and robe. I figured this Wednesday wouldn’t be earth shattering because I figured everyone saw God as an old guy with a beard, wearing a robe. God does have a funny sense of humor because every single time I think I’ve got things right in my head, he goes and messes with it.
Every Wednesday our girls and I would go to a large group where we would sing songs, watch a short video, and hear a message from either our youth pastor or one of our youth staff. Then we would go back to a classroom and get more in depth together as a small group. At the beginning of our time together we would always go around the room and each girl would share something about their week like highs and lows. Then I always asked them a question relevant to our topic for that week. This particular evening I straight out asked them, “How do you imagine God when you think about him or pray?”
Wow – the floodgates opened as I heard just how different each girl viewed God. I heard that the girl’s viewed God as a man, as a woman, as an old guy, as nature, as the starry sky….
It was like this endless list of powerful images of this God they pray to. This individual God they have a relationship with. It was amazing to my 44 year old self. It was like Jesus himself had put mud on my eyes and sent me to wash them in the Pool of Siloam just as he did when he healed the blind man in John chapter 9. I felt like my eyes were open and I was seeing something for the first time. Because I was! Not everyone imagines God like I do and that’s okay. There is no right or wrong answer on how to imagine God. It’s the relationship that is important for each of our lives. God is there in good times and bad and loves us unconditionally.
The same could be said about different religions. There is no right or wrong answer on how you choose to celebrate and worship this same God. Whether you are Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist……the list is endless. The list is filled with beautiful traditions and words and songs that are different from each other. These differences are perfect because they allow each person to be filled with the love of God and to live out their faith in the way that is perfect for them. There is no right or wrong way to worship our God just as there is no right or wrong way to imagine what he is or who he looks like. Whatever worldly pronoun you use to describe God is okay.
Those sixth grade girls proved to me that evening, that the way I see God is perfect for me. The way each of them sees God is absolutely perfect for them. We can learn so much from them. We can learn that differences in people are good! People will look different and act different then us. That is good! People will imagine God different then us. That is good! People will celebrate and worship the same God different then us. That is good!
I was changed that evening in January. Changed for the better. God had opened my eyes to see the beauty in the differences in people. I pray that you will be changed for the better too! Be open to the idea of God opening your eyes today to whatever you haven’t been open to seeing before. God is SO GOOD!
How do you imagine God? Have your eyes been blinded to the beauty of the way other’s imagine the same God? Ask God to open your eyes today to whatever you need to see! And don’t forget to send your praises for all the beautiful differences in this world – to the God who loves us all!