Study Guide: Beyond the Mirror

Sunday December 26, 2021 | Dan Kent

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Our understanding of God is often controlled by our projections upon him. How, then, do we actually attain a more accurate picture of who he actually his? This sermon seeks to address this question by helping us think through our experiences of parenting and how those experiences influence our view of God’s nature.

Extended Summary:

When we are thinking about how we understand God, we tend to project images upon God. Some of what we project is often more about us than they are about God. There is a connection between who we are and how we view or understand who God is. Currently, we do not see God in his fullness. Paul made this point in 1 Corinthians 13:12, as he said that, “we see through a glass, darkly: but then face to face.”

How then can we see more of God for who he is, and less of ourselves projecting upon God? The first thing is that we must get to know Jesus more and more because Jesus is the fullness of God. Jesus reveals what God looks like. Therefore, we must strive to put Jesus at the center of what it means to understand who God is.

The second thing that we must do is get to know ourselves because this will help us to understand how we are projecting upon God. One of the ways that we can better understand ourselves is to understand how we have experienced parenting. Being that there are different styles of parenting, our experience within any style will impact how we view God as our Father.

Dan offers a brief survey of three parenting styles. The first is called the Authoritarian Parenting Style. Those who follow this style parent through rules, communicate through monologue and their affection is dependent upon following their rules. It is a high control approach.

The Permissive Parenting Style take the opposite approach. They have few rules, exercise low authority, communicate loosely, and their affection feels random. This style of parenting lacks structure and does not have much control.

The third style is referred to as a Healthy Parenting Style. Here there are some rules that are goal-based. The communication is dialogical, and the affection is consistent and constant. The authority is collaborative in nature as the parents and kids work together to work toward the goals that they have set.

Understanding these different styles of parenting can help us think through how we view God as a parent. Our experience as a child under a specific form of parenting can influence how we experience God. If we view God as authoritarian, we will see him as one who has lots of demands, but loves only when we perform up to his standards. If we view God as permissive, the there are no boundaries and we only do what feels good in our relationship with God.

In Exodus 34:6-7 we read, “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgressions and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty: rather bringing consequences to the guilty …” We tend to read this Scripture through our experience. We need to become projection detectors. Meaning, we need to understand more and more about who we are so that we can understand how we are projecting our own assumptions upon God.

Reflection Questions: