How Do You Think of God?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to world events and daily life.

Centuries ago a prophet wrote of God, "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you" (Isaiah 66:13). That Bible promise has wiped away many tears and reassured many people facing serious troubles. Yet some people find the suggestion that God is like a mother as well as a father disturbing. Why should this be?

Christ Jesus taught us to pray to God as Father. The Bible speaks further of God as a Judge and Lawgiver. As our Shepherd. The Almighty. In Exodus we read that Moses talked with God as a friend (see 33:11).

Every name for God -- and the Bible gives many more -- provides insight into the nature and character of our creator. It also defines our relation to God.

For example, if we think of God as Judge, we expect His creation to be just, fair, and honest. This name also hints at the existence of a divine law that governs the universe. At times the name Judge has suggested a sense of harshness, even bringing fear of what God's judgment might be. But if we add the sense of God as Shepherd to the idea of Judge, that fear is erased; it is replaced by a sense of God's love and care. A view emerges of God as provider, defender, and eliminator of evil. His law or activity destroys evil and so preserves man.

The recognition of God's care and of His defense of all creation is heightened when we go a step further and consider God as Mother. What additional qualities are added to the picture? There are many, but we could start with a sense of God as nurturer of Her creation. God's children are fed, watched over, cared for. A mother's defense of her children is proverbial. We associate comfort, tenderness, and constancy with a good mother. What qualities would you add?

In today's society more of the activities of mother and father overlap. But each term, Mother and Father, has special connotations that can enlarge our understanding of the nature of God. This awakening to a fuller sense of God profoundly affects our responses to Deity. It aids in understanding the value of other Biblically inspired names for Him -- Truth, Love, Spirit. These names don't refer to many gods -- they are different facets of the one God. They deepen our spiritual understanding of Him. And we discover that the more we understand God, the more we love Him. The more we love God, the better we serve Him, and the better our own lives become.

In a sermon called The People's Idea of God, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, made this telling point: "Proportionately as the people's belief of God, in every age, has been dematerialized and unfinited has their Deity become good; no longer a personal tyrant or a molten image, but the divine Life, Truth, and Love, -- Life without beginning or ending, Truth without a lapse or error, and Love universal, infinite, eternal. This more perfect idea, held constantly before the people's mind, must have a benign and elevating influence upon the character of nations as well as individuals, and will lift man ultimately to the understanding that our ideals form our characters, that as a man 'thinketh in his heart, so is he' " (pp. 2-3).

Mrs. Eddy emphasized the nature of God as Father-Mother. This seemed revolutionary in the nineteenth century. It still seems that way to many people today. But this is not a new idea and it's not a feminist idea. It is a concept deeply rooted in the Bible. As noted at the beginning, the book of Isaiah brings this point out. And even earlier, the Bible writer of Deuteronomy developed the simile of God as a mother eagle, fluttering over her nest, sheltering her young and carrying them (see 32:11, 12).

Take your highest ideal of what a mother, or father, or judge, or shepherd should be -- and note how that gives an insight into the actual nature of God. In this way you'll find that God is no longer distant from you. No longer unapproachable. No longer fearsome. And God becomes to you a source of strength, comfort, and unfathomable love.

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