The Image of God and the Religions that forgot Him
God created human beings in his image. However, it has been through our human image that we have come to know God. We have looked toward ourselves to shape an image of Him. And in a lack of understanding toward ourselves, we have created an imperfect image of God – this is where the seed of religion was formed. Man created the institution of religion. We said God was angry and we know anger. We said God hated and we know hate. We said God handed/will hand down judgment, we know judgment. After all, we anger, we hate, we judge and we carry on the traditions of our ancestors. We have created the institution of religion to know God, but who are we worshipping? Is it God or our very own image that we have transposed over the image of God? God said, “In our image” in reference to him. He did not say the “exact” image. What is God’s image? There is no clarifying statement to follow. Yet, how many religious leaders claim to know the Word of God? How many use their collar or robe, ring or holy book, pulpit or alter for their agenda, their voice, their views, or their beliefs? This is why religion is an institution where God goes to die. Humans have become their own Gods in the name of one true God. His voice in religion is being silenced.
We are the creators of religion. We human beings have created a false image. In our desperate attempt to follow a path toward heaven or paradise, we have built a staircase toward only a mirror of ourselves. We don’t discover God at the top of the stairs, but an image of who we thought God to be – our creation. Behind the mirror is a voice that speaks to the true image of God within us all. It asks us many questions, such as, “Is your life fulfilling you?” “Is it a success?” “Do you love beyond fear?” “Do you give to me through the hearts of others?” “Do you see me in your fellow man?” “Are you ready to see?” “Will you look beyond and share?” This voice is the voice of the one true God. When we shed the illusion of believing we know God with certainty, we begin to final hear. When we cease understanding God through our primitive 5 senses and search beyond worldly understanding, we begin to feel God within. God grows when we stop believing in the image we created and start believing in the image we were created in. We are of God and of the world. We are spirit and dirt. Yet, in the dirt we have draw a wonderful picture of God and he looks and acts exactly like us.
How many times has God wiped away the image we have created? How many times has he replaced it with a miracle like a flood, or a parting of the seas, or a transfiguration? In science we are able to prove many miracles wrong. Yet, does explanation make a miracle any less miraculous? Isn’t there a miracle in our ability to consciously understand that there is life? What other creature knows life exists? Sure, primates have self recognition. They know they are there, but do they know they exist? Do they know they have the special gift of life? Isn’t this the power of a miracle to make us appreciate life? And isn’t it in this appreciation we find the closest image to God within? We are alive! We exist. We don’t just know ourselves. We know ourselves in life! Without miracles, we would never stop to truly wonder about the creation of life. It is our nature to seek out explanation – and this desire is what makes us human, not gods.
Yet, the leaders of most great religions dating as far back as to the Egyptians sought to use our human nature against us. They used our desire to seek understanding to gain power for them selves. Man follows man when we see God painted over us like skin and it covers the truth of our human identity. Whether it’s a high priest or a lowly preacher, we believe they know God and so we listen to the picture they create. They attempt to empower us through the Word of God, but often that word only empowers through a righteous sense of worldly self-worth. They hand us a God who is their God, but not your God if you are different. They keep us divided because the human image, the true image of humanity is very much divided. We have two natures, are divine and our worldly human nature. And so long as we combined our natures and wrap them up in the image of God, then this image will keep us divided. If you are religiously Christian, often your preacher will tell you to beware of the Muslims. If you are Muslim your holy leaders may tell you to beware of the Jew. Religion is about external power and being right. God is not for either one.
The true image of God is the abandonment of religion. He does not ask that we stand against each other, but for each other. Inside I bow to God within all because there is no fear within God. If we were to take on wings and elevate to the height of the heavens we would see a world that is alive. We would not see God in the religions spread across the world, but a world created by a God that exists in all. He would be soaring in us and appearing all around us. It is in our appreciation for the view of God in the clouds, the trees, and the mountain ranges afar that causes all fear to cease. We would be alive, living as one with all life. There would be no separation between you and me, no religions to fight over, no sect to kill for, no right or wrong, only Heaven in the sky – only the image of God in our hearts.
The abandonment of religion is the discovery of the Soul living in the true image of God. When we abandon the institution of Religion, we relinquish the image of God we have come to know: the image of man as the interpretive image of God.
Almost all of our great spiritual leaders and prophets were in opposition against the institutionalized forms of religion. They were deemed radical for their teachings. So why do we still think following the establishment will save us? Collectively, if they spoke of anything, they spoke of following God, not the institution which molds God to fit their varying versions of him. And when they get us from an early age on to believe their image, they follow with lines such as, “If you do not do this, or accept my interpretation of that…you will not get to walk the long winding staircase toward the mirror of Heaven.”
Jesus Christ, the man who knew God within, making him God incarnate, instructed to his followers on his departure to spread only the Word. He never spoke of spreading Christianity. He stood against the establishment, not for a religion. It was the men who followed that sought to institutionalize Christ. Man began to follow man, forgetting the lessons of Christ –forgetting to look for Christ within, to find God incarnate. They turned to a book and the book became Word. And the Word began to be spoken from the pulpit of man.
We create out of religion to suit our fear, not to love beyond our fear. We want to believe in the power of love, but we fear love might not be enough, so we find our strength in our religion. On Sunday mornings we head to church. We sit in a pew and we turn our ears toward the preacher, a man, we are told, who is granted the gift to speak for God. However, in order to hear this man, we must silence the true Word of God breathed into each and every one of us the day God created us in his image –it was in the image of God we were created. We don’t need another person to tell us what God thinks, feels, believes, or says. If we want to know God we must turn inward to discover ourselves in God’s own image. This image is not the same for everyone. His image in me is different than the image of God in you. However, I am certain that what unites us all in God is His love that flows through your heart and mine. He does not exist in my image, in love, I exist in His.
The God in our human image is a God we fight over. He is a God that has caused great suffering, war, struggle, division, and a constant pursuit of external power and isolation. This is not the God whose image we were created in. We are still evolving away from our self created image and into an image where love and peace will reign. Love is the only force that destroys fear, conquers hate, and unites us under One God. Whether we continue to choose religion over the true God or not, one thing remains – the God we adopt in our image whether Muslim, Christian, or Jewish causes the same suffering for all. The God whose image we were created in will heal us all in love just the same. Does that mean our image of God and the true image are the same God? No. It just means all of existence is a whole within a whole. We are all one in our humanity and all one in the spirit of God’s love. He is in you and in me. His love exists in the human heart.
It is not the expansiveness of the human heart that makes us like God, but the belief that within all our hearts is the source of our greatest nature: the nature to love beyond our fear and triumph over our worst nature, the nature of fear. We draw boundaries. Just look at a political map. Look at how isolated and divisive we are toward each other. We do it with land and with religion. We draw our boundaries. We create them and God within our hearts, speaking to us in love, works toward dissolving these boundaries, because the truth is that we are all the same – we all battle against the nature of fear.
I know God within. However, as much as I know God, I can’t speak of God to create you an image of Him. I don’t represent God. God represents himself through me. When I share love, I share God’s love because all love is of the same source. Love is of one inseparable source. Just like water, whether filling the ocean or a cup can’t be separated from its essence, so too you can’t separate the love in your heart from the love of God, but you can choose to ignore, block or not to express it. This will always be our choice.
In God’s image I must keep my heart open, even in the face of fear I can’t look toward another human being and see them as any less than the image God created. I may witness horrendous acts by their hands, but I will never call them an enemy. The true enemy is within our human nature. The only way to eliminate the true enemy is to battle it within the mind by not giving into the fears that created this enemy. The enemy outside the borders of the mind, the man I may fear, is just a reflection of our most primitive selves in darkness. And those who may consider me an enemy, can’t see pass their own fears to discover the true nature of my being – me, in the image of God.
We should work toward not giving into the creations of our minds, nor the fears of those people who would have us be their enemy. There is no enemy when we live in the loving hands of our creator. He didn’t create us in fear, but in love. We have no enemies except for the ones we create within our minds. There is no enemy in love. Love within the human heart comes from the source of our creation – from God.
It is in God’s image I find myself alive. It is in this image of God I have been reborn – not through religion, but through the abandonment of religion. Through the mending of my own divisions, I have found myself alive in Spirit. I do not have an enemy and institutionalized religion is not my enemy. I don’t desire to fight against religion. I only ask that we lay to rest our image of God, so he may lift us all up to be reborn in his image. It is not man I fear – it is only love I desire to share.
Who ever is reading this now; as your eyes skim these last few lines know that I honor the living God within you. God bless your days ahead.