What Does God look like?

February 18, 2009 | 12 comments

I’m a visual person.

In cookbooks, I tend to choose recipes where a photo shows the desired end-result. In memoirs, I love to see photos of the people described within.

But the trouble with such pre-set images is that our own imaginations sit idle. We are left with visual expectations of what should be, rather than what could be.

That goes for God, too.

Tell me: When you think of God, what do you “see”?

Anna, 4, shared with me yesterday that she knows what God looks likes.

“Tell me, Anna,” I said.

“Well, God wears a green scarf and a long, white, boy-dress like pastor wears,” she said, describing pastor’s white robe and vestments.

Lydia added: “And He has a long white beard and laughs a lot.”

Together, the girls’ description conjured up images of Santa Claus in a fluffy white robe. Even the children — rich with imagination — resort to familiar images to describe the indesribable.

Even today, at age 37, when I pray, I can’t shake the image of Jesus in the stained-glass window at my hometown church. That Jesus was both rugged and gentle – like a hippie who spent the day at the spa — with His wavy brown hair, flowing robe and skin far too white to accurately depict a Jewish rabbi from Nazareth. (I’ve even seen a blonde, Swedish-style Jesus in stained glass windows.)
Last year, I was intrigued by William P. Young’s characterization of the Holy Trinity in The Shack. In the book, God the Father is a black woman, Jesus is a Middle Eastern laborer and the Holy Spirit is a whimsical Asian woman – an outside-of-the-box treatment that shook my own mental expectations of God’s appearance.

I have also been deeply moved by the image of Jesus shared by my friend Janelle. When praying for my father-in-law, Janelle said she imagined Jesus sitting cross-legged on the edge of Paul’s hospital bed — just like He was one of the family, which He is.

As for God the Father, His appearance is unlike anything I could describe or imagine, though in worship, I tend to visualize the scene in Isaiah 6. Yet, Scripture tells us that even though we are made in God’s image, we are incapable of seeing God in all His glory.

So, tell me: What do you “see” when you think of God? What does Jesus look like to you?

by | February 18, 2009 | 12 comments

12 Comments

  1. isumom

    I think God looks different to everyone…He appears however you “envision” Him. Just like I commented on my mom’s blog, I think heaven is full of people you knew and loved and you see them as you remember them on earth, everyone sees them how they remember them. I think the same holds true for God, He appears however you think He should, that way you recognize Him! Simple answer, but that is how I have always thought of Him. Plus, I have the same “hometown church” image that you remember…maybe we will see Him the same way!

    Reply
    • isabelle

      yea same i think god looks realy different to everyone but when you write that part about seeing everyone you remember that was on earth want you miss them

      Reply
  2. Rob G.

    I try to see the face of God in every person. I especially notice Jesus in the homeless woman down the street or the starving African child or the man living in the behavioral ward at the local hospital. If the cross teaches us anything, it is that God is most visible in the suffering and dying of humanity.

    Reply
  3. janelle

    Oh wow – I love what Rob G. said about God being most visible in the suffering and dying of humanity. I think of you guys losing Paul and a while back when we lost Clint’s mom…if we hadn’t seen God during that time how would we have handled it? How could we go on now? I know that probably wasn’t what Rob G. was referring to but that’s what I thought of. I suppose, because I can feel God the most when I am sad, lonely, hurting, broken…

    But you were asking how I see him. I loved The Shack for that reason; it made me realize that I put God in a box, physically (appearance) and professionaly (power, ability, authority, etc.). But mostly Jennifer, I see him as that guy that was sitting cross-legged on Paul’s bed. I like to see him that way and I need to see him that way. I know he is still God but I need to see him as someone I can sit and “hang” with. You know?

    Reply
  4. mom2six

    I tend to visualize Isaiah 6 as well. This really had me thinking so I hope it okay I linked to this post for my blog on Saturday. I wrote a poem several months back that goes along with your question and Rob G’s observation to try to see God in the face of every person.

    Also sometimes when I think about what God looks like I just visualize hands. His hands holding me when I cry, lifting me when I fall, clapping when I get it right.

    Reply
  5. Peter Davidson

    Hello Jennifer – You have a very nice blog here; I appreciate your faith and sincerity. You may also enjoy the many testimonies of our Savior Jesus Christ at: http://wetestifyofchrist.blogspot.com. God bless!

    Reply
  6. Pam at beyondjustmom

    I love this question. I too find it hard to shake the traditional images and sort out what exactly He(she?) looks like when I pray. I too enjoyed pondering the different images in The Shack. I don’t think God has an image we can describe, but that’s the beauty of Jesus–someone we can personally relate to on a human level. God with “skin”.

    A couple of years ago, a group of high school kids at my church interviewed young people of Chrisitan, Jewish and Muslim faith with this question and created a documentary that one a statewide peace prize. The similarities were really fascinating.
    Here’s a bit more information about the project: Divine Light Pictures

    Reply
  7. lynnrush

    What a great question. I was surprised by how The Shack portrayed the trinity, but I see why.

    For me, I envision a man with the dark, longer hair and tall. But, what I envision the most is the sense of peace that radiates from him.

    Yes, like, Janelle described, someone sitting still next to you. Just always with you.

    Great post today.

    Reply
  8. God's Not Finished With Us Yet...

    To me God looks like (visually speaking) blinding light, overpowering with blasts of love that overshadows anything and everything. A light that is to bright to sneak a peek at and a love to deep to fathom. To me God looks like pure love. I’ve actually experienced His love in two dreams I had once….dreams where He was literally there and there was a PEACE that overflowed my throat….I didn’t want to leave the peace, the love; it was overwhelming and indescribable. It was like a ‘high’ I’ve never been on before and never since. I was ‘high’ on His love for weeks after this experience, and even now as I write about it I am smiling; His love was AWE embracing. And I couldn’t sleep or shake it for a long time; I was overflowing with happiness from what I experienced from Him.

    I agree with isumom; that God looks different to everyone though. But for me God looks like purity, perfection, gentleness, sweetness, and unimaginable, indescriblable love and grace.

    Reply
  9. grandma F

    I think God looks like however we envision him in our mind, different to each of us. To a child he might seem like santa claus, I see him as a tall wise looking man with long hair. I also believe we will see our loved ones when we go to heaven, no more diabetes or pain of any kind. God will be there as a friend would be and we will all know him. This is such a deep subject and causes much thought.

    Reply
  10. Hope42Day

    My vision of God…a little harder because I see Him everywhere in nature and in others. I really don’t have one particular image. However, my favorite picture of Jesus is the one where He is laughing.

    Reply
  11. Billy Coffey

    I like Janelle’s description of Jesus, too. Very comforting.

    I’ll admit this is something I’ve always wondered but never made up my mind about. My daughter, however, sees God as a giant, fluffy pillow that she will get to lie on forever.

    I like that one, too.

    Reply

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