Look Into Yourself To Glimpse God
Look into yourselves to see God if you want to know what God is like. We
are made in the image of God. In many of the elemental rhythms of life and the universal impulses in
ourselves, we see and share some
character traits of God, only God is bigger and better in those traits
than we are. Yet, nevertheless, there are imprints of grace put in our make- up as individuals through which we
see, recognize and know how we are all made in the image of God. Through recognizing God’s character
traits in us, the heritage of grace in us, we know how God is. We recognize clearly the deeper grace that is God‘s
through the smaller reflections of grace that are in us. That way we recognize in ourselves what God is
like only more so. Look inside yourselves to His imprints of grace in us to see what God is like.
Jesus reasons with us in the Gospel,“What person whom if their hungry son asks bread, would give him a stone?”(Matthew 7:9) Jesus goes on to expound that if we, not being as good as God, have enough of the goodness of God in ourselves to want to give good things like bread for life to our children, how much more does God want to give good gifts to us because His character is better and purer than ours. It is the little goodnesses in ourselves which show through in our natures and reflects God’s grace and love. We see the greater love of God, how God is, through the love in us because we are created as heirs of God’s image in so many merciful ways.
As the light of the sun is reflected by the night moon to make the moon shine in darkness, so the grace of God glows in the creation of mankind. So it is when the love of God is reflected in the creation of mankind. We see the love of God shining through others and feel it glowing within ourselves and we know from these, not only that God reigns, but that God loves and is. The grace of God is shining within us and around us. As we see it we recognize the character of God in us if we want to know what God is like. Jesus pointed it out in the desire everywhere of parents to feed and give good gifts to their children. This is grace in our natures. And it is common grace given to all mankind.
If we want to know how God loves us, we can think about how we love our children or how our parents loved us. That love and concern is everywhere in humanity. It is part of God’s heritage of common grace, the imprint of His traits over earth, a tendency to love shared by everyone that is the sign of His grace within us and the visitation of His Being in the creation of the human race however He did it. If we want to know how God is, we should look at many of those traits of love and the calls of grace that dignify the human race.
If you want to see how God is, look at the character witness God has left behind in the laudable and loving traits of grace that men and women have. We see these in the attitudes of grace shared by humanity around us and we know that this love is a sign of God, only God’s love is deeper and purer. So if we might see God, we might look to the common signs of grace shared by all people everywhere.
When a mother or father has a child, they are infinitely proud, but we know they will never in their lives again have a time when they do not worry how the child is, no matter how old their child gets. They have reached a level of thought that those who create share just as God worries over His creation: days of caring concern over what has been created, worry, yet pride and great joy and sometimes satisfaction and pride in their creation.
If you want to know how God feels then identify yourself with every parent whose child has grown up but has grown up to make wrong decisions. The parents self-limited by love cannot directly interfere with their children’s lives. Yet the children now parading as grown up, the parents feel, maybe know, are making the wrong decisions as well as living in the wrong ways. Such parents know how God feels as He observes some of us. They have found how God feels in themselves. They see the link. For God has limited himself to allow His children’s exercise of free will just as parents have to abide by their children’s decisions when children think they are grown up but actually the children are not grown up they are not grown up, spiritual or responsible. Yet the children are still passionately loved anyway. And then what about the way the grandchildren are being reared? Oh, Lord, they too hate to think of it.
Yes, that is what God is like. He has suffering love. His love suffers through its own self-limitation and resolve not to interfere in the “free will” lives of those who claim they are “adults.” Because God lets you go your way until you learn gradually through insights of grace His is the Right Way. (John 1:14) That is, if you learn at all. Many don’t.
If you wish to know what God is like, if you wish to know how God feels, look inside yourselves to how you feel on spiritual higher things and you will find God is that way, only more. God is often to be known by magnifying to many higher, deeper, purer and better levels what we feel when we are at our best. We can often see and feel grace filled feelings deep inside of us that hint of what God’s character is like.
Human life is full of grace at many levels. God’s grace was buried in our natures at our creation and it becomes obvious to us at many levels in impulses, rhythms and elemental feelings shared by all of us. All normal people wish to do right by their children. From them we see how God feels about us. Even as bad as we as humans might be there is still grace there. The grace truths are within us, though dimmed by sin, because underneath it all we are formed much in the image of God. Though we sin badly, we yet retain much of Him in our image. We show many of His ways in grace. One way is joy.
I pray you therefore, if you wish to know how God feels or how God is, to look inside yourself to link to God because we are alike in many ways in image and feelings. Through His light we see the lights inside of us in our natures that are placed there by grace. We see grace in ourselves darkly, but in time we recognize it, and we discern things more clearly. The Apostle compared it to seeing through a glass darkly.
Never forget that grace, elements of godly living are buried inside of our natures by nature’s God: holy awareness, rhythms of love, plain beauty, natural economy, those elementals of grace that are buried in creation to let us know something of what God is like and something of what we are really like because we are made in His image. Recognize there are universal truths applied in us and being applied by us in living. They are grace truths that we may act out without our always knowing what we doing or what they are. Sometimes they come to us naturally. So fill your life with the good rhythms of giving and love that are natural within you. Recall: “Which of you, if your child asks for bread, would give the child a stone.” That is a streaming natural compassion and love. It is one of those rivers of grace within us mentioned in Psalms 46:4. whose streams whereof make glad the city of God.
Though humankind is fallen and sinful, nothing can ever completely erase or can there be erased the elemental natural vestiges of man’s creation by God. Mankind carries ever the truth that man is by nature a creation in the divine image and the proof of it is the huge amount of good feelings, evidence of grace, faith, hope and good will within humankind. We humans are a people created by God so that in our natures we have always some of the light of God, however sinfully and dimly we may choose to suppress it. Humanity remains the love, the pride and hope of God who created humans from earth and then came to reclaim us in His redemption through Christ’s suffering.
I advise you therefore to be aware of man as a sinner, but to also reserve some faith and respect for a mankind that was created in the image of God and still does many good things naturally. Mankind also shares many good traits with God through common grace. Some of man’s original godly image still lingers in the worst of us. And it is to be historically found that some of the fallen sinners redeemed by Christ have been able to brighten if not perfect man’s tarnished image. While mankind can never be perfect and will continue to be somewhat sinful always, mankind may still be better. You may believe in this. It is as sure as grace. Our goodness will come out though we try to hide it to be sophisticated or seem hard.
So I would advise you not to waste your lives and faith on those who say there is no good in mankind. That is not true. There is much of that in a humanity created partially in the image of God. Nor would I say there is not bad or evil in man, there is. Those not facing the existence of evil go to sleep at the wheel to wreck lives sooner or later. It is a matter of having a balanced Protestant vision.
I would also advise you not to dilute your faith with the modern intellectual theories and philosophical word spinning that will waste your ability to believe. Do not go for the intellectuals of overly intellectualized seminaries where the more you learn, the less you love, and the more you despise the people around you. Remember the ultimate nightmare of the modern liberal intellectual as well as the intellectuals of many main line churches is either trusting God, the people or the people to God.
Remember you are made in the image of God. Recall even the most ignorant person has grace in them through some natural inclinations from God in nature. And it is far better those with character weaknesses be redeemed by love, rather than being crammed with the nonsense of the soon to be (if not already passing and vanishing) non-spiritual, materialistic and literal mind-set that is misnamed “liberal.” It should be named more appropriated the Spiritually Backward Mind.
The Personality of God includes love, grace and personal sympathy. You should enjoy these things through religion. Unfortunately most of the religious endeavor of our age has been tamed into insignificance by a second rate materialism joined with liberalism. And as for the backward churches, a creed will not save. Only relationships with God will really save the earth now or souls later. The need to serve and save human life now is just as important as eternal life later. For it is by serving now that we stumble onto our salvation later. Our salvation grows from service and the spiritual life well and purposely lived.
The God who is only a philosophical principle is not worth the worship. Their Gods are word tricks. They are nothing Gods who can be discussed endlessly but do absolutely nothing. What does omniscient mean? It is theoretical nonsense. But a moment of the presence of God is life generating and pain healing. God is a Personality you can enjoy, meet, or be comforted by. He gives direction or purpose. He will give you a feeling of being raised up. Therefore why settle for a false God or no God? A God you can’t use is like having a lever and nothing to stand on to move things with.
Why waste your time worshipping the shadow gods many of the modern churches often represent? The army of main line churches that believe in nothing but try to do everything in the way of social work are a cockalorum lot. Much can be done on a little faith but any successful effort in faith does require some bagatelle of belief thrown out by grace.
Why do people attend spiritually empty churches really? So they will not be bothered with belief they do not want,that would upset their habits of living selfishly for themselves. Many people do not desire God, yet they do not dare to renounce them. They cower together in spiritually empty churches they like. They go to these sad cake churches to pretend they have a belief without really having one. It is the Great Compromise: to talk about God but evade God so you are left safe from His demands.
If you would like to know more of God, look inside yourself, looking inside yourself for grace may teach you more than the spiritually empty churches. You may be surprised at the levels of insight and the reflections of God’s grace that you find. Spiritual Life often begins with an awareness of the many variations on the theme of grace that are inside of us and around us in the world. It is our becoming aware of as well as seeing the common grace given to all peoples. Then going further to enjoy the special grace available to all peoples who know the Gospel message.
Let us remember Jesus said to seek first the Kingdom of God. He came to proclaim the Kingdom of God. He preached the Kingdom of God was at hand. A great deal in recognizing the Kingdom of God is the angle you see it from. That angle is the renewal of the right spirit within you in the way you look at things in a clear and spiritual manner. Jesus said in Luke 17:21 “The Kingdom of God is within you.” Consider it. Inside of you is not all Kingdom of God but some of the Kingdom of God shows and is there. Look in yourself to meet that part of God’s mind in you that is a link between you and God and shows the creation of God in you.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.