A Healing Image of God

image of GodHow is your image of God? What does your portrait of Him look like?

For years my mind has been a battleground between two portraits of God and His law. My dominant picture painted Him as an arbitrary, rule imposing, legal payment requiring, and death and punishment inflicting authoritarian. And yet I struggled through the years to see another picture: His image is in the face of Christ. There He is simply a friend and a healer. Yet it has been hard for me to separate reality from illusion, truth from lies.

My Violent Portrait

Even though I intuitively realized the fatal flaws in the underlying bedrock of my view—the Penal Substitution Model of salvation—it took a long while for me to find the solution. Or did the solution find me? Perhaps I wasn’t ready. It all started with my uncle Jack. His portrayal of a gentle God who didn’t condemn or punish was compelling. For years I contemplated it, and it grew with the help of those like Ty Gibson and Morris Venden. Then—slowly—the bud broke into bloom as the Spirit guided me to Sigve Tonstad, Graham Maxwell, Tim Jennings, Jean Sheldon, Denise Grant, and Brad Cole. With their help a beautiful healing portrait emerged.

A Healing Portrait

The right portrait of God makes all the difference in the world. No one is immune to buying into the wrong picture of God. So let’s pull down the arbitrary, violent, vengeful, unforgiving, and severe picture of God and put up one that images Jesus—the exact imprint of God’s very being (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 2:9)—as a lamb slain; as a gentle, gracious Physician.