How Do You Approach God?

by Christine Sine

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When Sue read my book Return to Our Sensesshe told me she was at first stunned, horrified and appalled by my suggested approach to God. I talked about an intimate, loving relationship which seemed indecent and inappropriate. She had been taught that God was almighty, all powerful, and holy and in humble gratitude she felt she needed to grovel at God’s feet.

She told me that she slowly realized that she had a distorted view of God that was loveless and legalistic. It had placed her in a miserable cage, a self imposed prison from which she is slowly being unravelled.

Unfortunately Sue’s experience of God is not unusual. I grieve for the many sincere Christians who have been taught that God is holy but not loving, powerful but not caring, forgiving but not really forgetting. And as a consequence we live in fear of a God who judges our every action and always finds us lacking.

Part of my grief is because I too grew up with a legalistic and very austere God. My own journey toward belief in a loving, compassionate God was slow and at times painful, painful only because I had to allow God to transform my own hurts and insecurities to make room for the love and compassion God wanted to reveal in my life.

First my participation in a caring Christian community in which love was practiced. I continue to be inspired by the healing power of community. In spite of our imperfections which often mean that Christian community seems less loving than we would like it to be, we still experience more healing together than we ever will as isolated individuals. Second reaching out to help others. In healing others we often discover our own healing. Third, a willingness to change. Probably the most challenging step in discovering that God is loving and caring is admitting that our rigid, legalistic view of God is wrong. A God who makes lots of rules may not be easy to love but is much easier to follow than one who allows us the freedom of discovering and setting our own boundaries.

So how do you approach God? What has helped you to recognize the God who is love?

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Katie Baier June 20, 2013 - 9:03 am

This really touched me this morning because I was just spending time with my daughter and her family over the weekend and we talked a lot about how we see God. I related my conversion experience back in 1978. I was raised Catholic and in my distortion I always thought you could never just say “Jesus” you had to refer to him as Jesus Christ. It was almost the same way I was taught to address my mother’s best friend…Mrs. Alexander. It was on a Marriage Encounter weekend and the priest started talking about Jesus. I remember thinkiing that he talks about Jesus just like he just had dinner with him. My heart was changed forever.
I am so thankful that I grasped the loving, welcoming Trinity.

Christine Sine June 20, 2013 - 2:47 pm

Beautiful – I love the way that you describe your movement from God as an entity to God as the loving welcoming Trinity

Alan Irving June 20, 2013 - 9:27 am

Jesus is my friend. It takes a lifetimes walk to realize just how close he is walking beside us. Could He be as close as our own shadow formed by the light of the gospel?

Christine Sine June 20, 2013 - 2:48 pm

Amen Alan – early Christians saw Jesus as friend and companion rather than as a distant hierarchical God. It is wonderful when we learn to do the same

Laura June 21, 2013 - 3:53 pm

Interesting post. I think it is important to keep a balance between God’s immanence and transcendence. Tipping to an extreme either way is not good. As you emphasize, in an overly legalistic/austere approach people fail to see God as personal and loving which is sad. But I think it is also possible to focus so much on the personal that we can lose a healthy fear and reverence for God. I try to live with the “tension” that God is both far and near, knowable and unknowable, powerful and caring, etc.

Christine Sine June 22, 2013 - 3:53 am

Laura – you are right. God is all powerful and we can trivialize who God is if we only focus on the friend and companion aspect.

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