In an episode of the Twilight Zone, a young boy gained omnipotent powers, and people were forced to accept his every decision as good—or else. In this sermon, Greg shows how many people view God this way, and he opens up another way to view God.
Our picture of God is of utmost importance. From our picture, we draw our theology and how we live our life. God is love, and we are made in God’s image. And we exercise our faith in God based upon our picture of God. If we don’t think God is love, then our faith won’t reflect that, and our actions won’t reflect it either.
In the episode of the Twilight Zone, “It’s a Good Life”, a boy named Anthony gains omnipotent powers. Anthony uses these powers to decide what is good and what is bad. For instance, Anthony turns a man into a jack-in-the-box simply because the man disagreed with him. The people in the town where Anthony lived were forced to say that anything Anthony did was good. They lived in terror of him because of his powers.
Unfortunately, many people have a similar view of God. They see God as a deity who arbitrarily does good and evil, and we simply have to say it’s all good for fear of being the target of a proverbial lightning bolt from Heaven. And, when we have this view of God or even small parts of it, we have trouble clothing ourselves with love as Paul commands us.
If you seriously want to manifest love in your life, then you have to take time to gaze on the beauty of God. But, this presupposes that you have a beautiful, mental picture of God. And some of us don’t. The reason believers are able to be transformed into the likeness of Christ is because they see something in their mind, using their imagination, which is beautiful.
Faith is imaginatively seeing the reality of God as true, and this creates a conviction that motivates us to live differently. If we see the reality of God as beautiful, then we will be convicted to live in that beauty. If we see the reality of God as an ugly, fear-based controlling God, then we will be convicted to live a life as loveless and controlling. We become what we see and believe. And this has been proven as neurologically true as well as spiritually true.
Timothy Jennings wrote in his book, The God-Shaped Brain, that the kind of God you worship changes your brain. Jennings writes that love based images of God are healthy for the brain and fear based images literally cause brain damage. When we process something that we are afraid of, our brain releases a cocktail of drugs to motivate our body into a flight or fight response. This response, if prolonged over a period of time, can wreak havoc on our brain and body. It can cause decreased abilities to learn things, think clearly, be empathetic, control emotions, lowered sense of well-being, and intensified self-centeredness. In essence, we go into a self-survival mode.
If we are going to put on love, we need to de-stress. Modern society has, for many of us, created a constant environment of stress. We have a constant bombardment of things that stress us out. And, to learn how to live a life clothed in love, we must first simplify our lives.
But there is good news. The brain can heal itself. Even spending 15 minutes a day gazing on the beauty of God can heal the damage that has been caused. God’s love is defined in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross. Nowhere else is the picture of God given completely.
Take time to gaze upon this beauty. Manifest the reality of Jesus’ love as God’s reality, and then take that information and live a life convicted by it. This is discipleship and the process by which we escape all the images of God that are false.
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