It probably makes sense that I’ve been thinking about Christ in this Christmas season. At least I know that’s supposed to be the deal! I was remembering the other day to a season of deep renewal in my life and in the college community I shepherded in the early 90s. I remember at that time being particularly moved by God’s own description of Himself to Moses:
“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7 NIV)
As I reflect on the Lord’s proclamation, I realize that there is always at least some distance between my theological or doctrinal image of God and my functional or gut image of God. What image of God do I teach, preach or share in evangelism? How have the scriptures shaped that image? Now what about the image of God implied in the way I pray? How deeply do I trust that God is–
- Compassionate? Do I believe that He feels and cares about what burdens me, worries me, concerns me?
- Gracious? Do I believe that He loves to be generous with me?
- Slow to anger? Do I see Him as more patient with me than I usually am with myself?
- Overflowing with care and concern for me? (Abounding in love). Do I see Him as more loving than I can imagine (or less)?
- Continually reliable? Do I believe that even when events around me are frustrating, disappointing or frightening that I can count on Him?
- Able to have a personal, intimate relationship with thousands at the same time?
- Ready to forgive every wickedness, rebellion and sin in my life?
- So holy that He can never just ignore unholiness?
In this Christmas season, perhaps it would be good to pray along these lines a bit. How does God want to transform the image of Him that I hold in my heart? How might Christ be more fully formed in me?