Claudia Osmond ~ Reader, Writer, and Ruminator

What does this say about God?

In a peek inside my head on September 20, 2010 at 9:30 am

Questions and insights into the human condition have always been of interest to me. Some people believe we are inherently good. Others believe we are inherently evil. But if we are inherently good, why is there so much evil in the world? And on the flip-side, if we are inherently evil, why is there so much good in the world? (Yes, there is a lot of good going on in the world. And you really, truly don’t have to look too far to find it. But to focus on the good things in our world is really quite counter-cultural and would likely put scores of journalists and news anchors out of a job; ’cause let’s face it, the scandal involving so-and-so is going to get the air time over a segment on a youth group raising funds to feed homeless people downtown. Not to mention, People, US, and TMZ would be a complete bore and seriously be lacking in word count, wouldn’t they?)

I digress.

In light of some recent public and media attention surrounding two specific events in the U.S. that demonstrate some very un-Christian behavior from a couple of professed Christians, I found it timely to be asked this question yesterday. Perhaps it’s a question on many people’s minds.

“If man is made in the image of God, what does this tell us about God?”

I would have loved to answer that question from a positive slant. But it was asked from the negative. And really, either way you look at it, this question can’t be answered and presented in a nice neat little box. It’s a messy question. And it’s one that comes from a very specific perspective.

By no means am I suggesting the following answer I gave is a definitive, “right” or only answer. Like many things in life, the true and complete nature of humanity’s relationship to God and vice versa isn’t something that can be figured out in a few minutes. Not in a day. Not even in a lifetime. But that shouldn’t stop us from grappling with the questions we have. So here’s a partial perspective on the topic from my general point of view:

Have you ever heard about the original masterpieces they’ve discovered that have been painted over by some other artist, covering up the work of the master artist? I think it’s kind of like that. The original masterpiece God created has been painted over by our own choice of designs.

We have no one to thank but ourselves (as a species) for the things that are wrong with humanity, for who has been given the power to make choices? Yet we tend to project our bad choices back to God and blame him for everything that’s wrong in the world. We even blame him for giving us free will and the ability to make our own choices, as is reflected in the question above. But usually only when those choices make humanity look bad, ie: slavery, injustice, abuse of power/authority, hate crimes, disrespect of the environment, the list goes on …

However, God’s original design/image/brushstrokes are still there, underneath millenia of humans painting over his design with their own. But, small glimpses of the original design sometimes do resurface when people act on behalf of the world and humanity out of pure unselfish motives.

There are other positive things about humanity, too, that truly do reflect God’s image. However, sadly, we seem to like to take credit for those things ourselves.

The upside in this broken world: we do have the ability to make choices that can let the original design resurface. And in so doing, we can make our world a better place.

Have you ever asked yourself the above question? How would you answer it? Please leave a comment if you feel comfortable doing so. I’d like to hear what you think.

  1. I think you answered it perfectly. In that God made us in His image, and had the audacity not only to paint over it with our own design – but to blame him for the problems we create.

  2. The Kabbalists had an interesting take on this question, Claudia. It involved a little mind exercise. God is everything, right? It/he/she contains everything – black and white, good and bad, light and dark, etc. If one agrees with this premise, then you get a conundrum, because if god is perfect, then god also is imperfect….And we are made in that imperfect image. God’s plan, according to the kabbalists, was that humanity was to be God’s partner in creating that perfect world,the co-creator if you will.

    I came across an interesting idea this past weekend. It was this: that being a good, ethical person means being a person who is able to “tolerate the pain” of an imperfect world. I.E., one who doesn’t say, “well, people are all evil, everything sucks, why should I bother?” It is sooo easy to get mad, when people do evil or foolish things – it’s natural to want to just close your door to the world. But those who are “good” people are the ones that continue to do their little piece and not get discouraged even in the face of overwhelming evidence that bad stuff is out there.

    I do love your artsy metaphor. It makes me think that all we need is a good scrubbing to reveal our glory!

    • Interesting ideas, Helaine. I wasn’t familiar with the Kabbalist world/Godview. I, too, think it’s our responsibility to partner with the good that God’s already doing in the world and work together with him to transform this place. And I agree that we should not be disheartened to the point of apathy/giving up by all the evil around us, that we should continue doing good.

      I suppose that where I differ mostly is in two areas: first, I believe that though God has created everything, he’s not IN everything. I do think, however, that his nature is revealed through his creation. Again, like when an artist paints/writes/sculpts etc… bits and pieces of that person’s essence are revealed in the way they express themselves through their art. It’s almost like you leave your heartprint as a watermark in everything you create. And secondly, I believe God to be perfect and perfectly good.

      I totally think things like what you’re doing with Air Lift to LA are examples of partnering with God. Whenever we act selflessly on behalf of humanity we are indeed co-creating a better world. Thanks for your comment and for joining the conversation, Helaine.

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