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How Do You Describe God?

None of us has seen God but we can each have our own way of describing our experience of God.  Recently, my spiritual director gave me a list of words that people may use to describe God.  He asked me to look at the words and ask myself does the word fit my image of God.  Three-quarters of the words are positive words and the remainder are words that generally have a negative connotation.

Over the next few weeks, I will pick some of the words and share with you my reflection on how they fit my image of God.  I start today with three from the negative list.

Tyrant – I see a “tyrant’ as a person who uses their power for their own gain.  They make rules based on what they want instead of what is right.  God certainly makes the rules but he does not make up rules for his own good.  God’s rules are good for us.  Rules like “You shall not kill” and “You shall not steal” are good for us.  God does not use his power for himself.  God has nothing to gain for himself.  God acts for our good.  Therefore, God is NOT a tyrant.

Policeman – I see a “policeman” as a person who enforces the law.  The police do not make the law.  God makes the rules and offers us wisdom and strength to live according to his Law.  But God does not exist to enforce the law.  God’s desire is for us to love.  God’s Law is a tool to help us understand what it means to love.  Therefore, God is not a policeman.

Stern Judge – My first reaction to this description was that God is not a stern judge.  God is about love and “stern” doesn’t ring of love.  As I continued to reflect though, I realized that God certainly the one who passes final judgment and has every right to do so.  God can be firm in his judgment as the one who is all-knowing.  Yet, I do not see God’s purpose as that of being a “stern judge” for the same reasons I don’t see God as a policeman.  God’s goal is not judgment.  God’s goal is for us to be with him for eternity.

Do you see God as a tyrant, policeman, or stern judge?


Fr. Jeff

P.S. For more on how we talk about God, check out my page on “How We Talk About God”.

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