My image of God creates me. [1]

The way I see God, who I understand God to be directly influences and impacts the way I see myself, others and Earth, the common home we all share.

Over years this image has changed. 

Once upon a time, as though in a fairy tale that I loved and lived into, God was an old man with a long beard sitting on a very large throne in a faraway galaxy called Heaven. God was intriguing, distant, apparently loving but also somewhat unpredictable. My religious teachers of the day assured me of my eternal home in that beautiful place where the streets were paved with gold and there was no crying only laughter, as opposed to the other place that was ruled over by a very wicked red man with horns and a pitchfork. This was my nightmare so I clung to my fairy tale, and covering my bases did what was I thought was necessary to do every day. I got down on my knees with my hands in the prayer position and asked Jesus into my heart. For that evening at least, I was safe. 

My image of God creates me. 

Nowadays I don’t hold to this type of view of God. I’ve changed. My thinking has evolved and with it a ‘rise of consciousness, and as consciousness rises, so too does awareness of God. [2] God is no longer a far away God, in fact as described in the words of the Apostle Paul  ‘in him we live and move and have our being.’ [3]

God is Incarnate. God is in ALL things. God fills all of the spaces.

When Christians hear the word ‘incarnation’ most of us think about the birth of Jesus, who personally demonstrated God’s radical unity with humanity.

(But) the first incarnation was the moment described in Genesis 1, when God joined in unity with the physical universe and became the light inside of everything.

The incarnation is not only ‘God becoming Jesus’... but also the Christ that we continue to encounter in other human beings, a mountain, a blade of grass or a starling…everything visible, without exception, is the outpouring of Christ.” [4]

Christianity is the Religion of Incarnation

I used to believe that God’s primary reason for sending Jesus (Godself) to Earth to live, breathe and experience life as we know it was ultimately to die, to appease God who had somehow become so incredibly angry with his human creatures that someone had to pay. This enforced my early child-like view that God was an angry and punishing God, even though presented as being loving and forgiving. Now I believe that Jesus (God) became flesh and lived amongst us to firstly show us who God was, what God is like, and what we can also be like as image bearers of God (see Genesis 1 if you don’t believe me). 

My image of God creates me

This kind of God, who knows me intimately, shares in my life, my joys and sufferings is one who I am now safe with. My evolving understanding of God  has enabled me to recognise the divine ‘in-ness’ in me and in all things created. Trusting in the loving kindness of God, I can be kinder to myself and others, even extending this care to the Earth. 

In this way, from this new viewing platform I am able to be more inclusive. Where once difference caused suspicion and seperation, I can now embrace and include, knowing that same essence of God defines you and me. I can even get involved in the work of justice making on your behalf.

Incarnational theology is also an ecological theology in the deepest sense of the word because of the sacredness found in all things. When I can recognise the presence of God in the created world around me, I am opening myself to the deconstruction of dualistic thought that seperates matter from spirit. As I see them as one beautiful interconnected whole, I am able to lean into a spirituality so much more embedded in the World’s indigenous cultures, first and foremost the tangata whenua, of Aoteoroa. In this way, from this viewing platform I am able to be involved in the work of reconciliation and peace making. 

My evolving understanding of God is anchored (and safe) in an Incarnational Theology, where God is ‘one God who is Father of all, over all, through all and within all” [5] and “…in him we live and move and have our being.” [6]

Linda Burson Swift

[1]Richard Rohr

[2]Ilia Delia

[3]Acts 17 v 28

[4]Richard Rohr

[5]Ephesians 4

[6]Acts 17 

The Three I'sClint Gibson