As I listen to different people speak about God, I hear so many different views of Him. It causes me to wonder if we humankind are somewhat like the blind men in the famous poem by John Godfrey Saxe.
If you recall the poem, you know the blind men go to see an elephant to observe what he is like. Each of them approaches the elephant from a different position. As each is trying to touch him and describe him, each comes up with a very different view of what an elephant is.
I think we are so often blind to the truth of who God is. Our view of Him is skewed by the influence of so many people and things we experience in life (many of them during our formative years in childhood). I have read more than a few books and articles that describe those different perspectives into categories.
One research study by Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion in 2006 settled on four categories for our perception of God. These are: “Authoritarian God, Critical God, Distant God, and Benevolent God”.
The labels give you a clear indication of the perspectives. Let’s look at the definitions of the four adjectives for the sake of clarity:
Authoritarian – “favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority”
Critical – “expressing adverse or disapproving comments or judgments.”
Distant – “far away in space or time”
Benevolent – “well meaning and kindly”
Studies of child development point to how often our relationship with our parents and especially our fathers influence how we view God. Throw in our first exposure to clergy and a pretty strong impression starts to develop in a formative mind.
The consequence is that our values and how we choose to act and react begin to form from those early views and perceptions. How much we want to draw close to God or anything associated with spirituality flows out of these consequences and perceptions.
For some there is a disconnect when they see Jesus in the New Testament as compared to God in the Old Testament. Jesus seems so consistently benevolent and many fail to see any evidences of grace in the God they see, hear, or read about in the Old Testament. Page by page throughout the Old Testament we see God blessing people, showing His kindness, care, and forgiveness despite rebellion, stubbornness and deceit.
No matter what our earthly fathers may have been and no matter what clergy may have been like in our life, God wants us to know the whole of who He is and not be like the blind men who each saw only a part and believed the whole was the same as a part.
If our images of Him are skewed from wounds and hurts, He offers healing.
We have difficulty in our humanity to balance seemingly opposite characteristics without dissonance when we look at God. He is gentle as a shepherd, but He is also strong like a lion. He is tender and full of love, but also just and promises judgment.
His Word reminds us of the truth that no one is like Him.
Here are just two examples:
“There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord, Nor are there any works like Yours.” Psalm 86:8 (ESV)
“There is none like You, O LORD; You are great, and great is Your name in might.” Jeremiah 10:6 (ESV)
If you are one who has struggled with seeing God as authoritarian, critical, or distant, consider this: God loved you so much that He didn’t want you to miss out on a relationship with Him even if you misunderstood who He was, stayed away from Him, or ignored Him. He came in human form as Jesus to help you see Him as He is.
He loved you that much.
He still does.
15 thoughts on “Are We Like the Blind Men?”
So very true! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
Yes! It’s so critical that we return to The Word for our view of God. His Word does not lie, whereas our feelings are fickle and not often trustworthy. Great post, Pam!
Thanks, Rachel! I think we know that and yet in the busyness of life I hear of its neglect so often. Have a beautiful day!🌻
Wonderful post Pam! I’d love to share the message of it at the Women’s Emergency Accommodation Centre where I lead a team once weekly to connect and teach God’s word to the women staying there. God wants us to break the barriers that cause us not to see Him as who He really is. And Love is always the answer even if it sounds very cliche!
Thanks so much, Lynn. Sounds like a great idea! Let me know if you do and how the Lord uses this and you in the midst!
You’re right! Love is always the answer!❤️
So true Pam, great post! Perception & the construction of paradigms verses the truth in reality of who God is… Very well said. 😀
Great post testifying to God’s beautiful character.
Thanks for sharing!
Your neighbor at Tune in Thursday. I just shared about this story in response to Michelle Morin’s post on the book Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton. Years ago I was struggling with an answer to prayer and my counselor at the time shared that story with me to help me see how big God is. Our views of God are so easily skewed, we often see Him through deceptive perceptions. The pain or hurt is very real, but we miss who God really is when we only see Him through those lenses. Thank for another great post. I definitely relate and your words have really encouraged me! Blessings!
Thanks so much for sharing this story and how the Lord used this in your life. It’s exciting to see how the Lord works in the lives of his children and confirms what He has shown them.
Your words have encouraged me as I seek to be obedient to share what the Lord would lead me to write about.
Have a blessed weekend!
Great post! Really thought provoking. Blessed to be your neighbor at the RaRa linkup this week.
So, so beautiful Pam. Thank you for sharing!
This was a wonderful read. Thanks for sharing on To Grandma’s House We Go!
Dear Pam … thanks for this tender reminder of God’s deep love for us. I have a strong feeling that your post will encourage readers to seek His compassion, especially if their encounters with significant people along the way left them with the impression that He is a God of wrath, discipline, and vengeance.
May we see Jesus as we all seek to live our lives for Him … full of loving grace and truth.