Our View of God

Wizard of Oz

“Hail to Dorothy, the Wicked Witch is dead!” With a simple bucket of water Dorothy slew the dreaded Witch, and it didn’t come a moment too soon. My six year old heart was about to beat out of my chest. But thanks to the strategically located bucket, disaster was evaded; that is, until the next scene. After obtaining the witch’s broomstick, Dorothy strolled into the Wizard’s throne room hoping to find a way home. The gigantic head of the Wizard responded by hollering orders amidst flames, smoke, and peals of thunder. My sister and I scurried for couch pillows in which to bury our faces. Despite the terror, the glory of Oz commanded our attention.

Not since my birth had I experienced such trauma. There would be no bucket large enough for Dorothy to extinguish this foe. But then, when it seemed that all hope was gone, Dorothy’s little dog, Toto, tugged upon a curtain with his teeth. It opened to reveal a white-haired man standing before a control panel. Realizing that he was exposed, the Wizard shouted, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, the Great Oz has spoken.” But lo and behold, it wasn’t the Great Oz; it was merely the old man with a microphone. The charade was up and soon Dorothy’s ruby-red slippers would send her home.

I was tense (all right, I was terrified). Interestingly, though, as I lay in bed staring at the ceiling, my thoughts didn’t concern Dorothy so much as they pondered the nature of God. My six year old mind superimposed the frightening attributes of the Wizard upon Jesus. He was the stern judge determined to make my life miserable.

Have you ever taken time to sit down and reflect on what comes into your mind when you consider Jesus? It’s rather amazing how many hours we can spend in church ministry without giving serious thought to the question. Since our view of Jesus Christ shapes our faith, and our faith (or lack thereof) inevitably forms our identity, we would do well to give it thought. As Tozer famously put it, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”[1]

Many of us struggle to acquire a biblically informed view of God. Our challenge is not simply seeing through a dark glass; we also have the problem of looking in the wrong direction. The following passage is a good starting point:

Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD.  And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,  maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."  Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped (Exodus 34:5-8).

[1] A. W. Tozer. The Knowledge of the Holy. (New York: Harper San Francisco, 1961), 1.

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