You may or may not know the story of Pygmalion. In ancient Cyprus, Pygmalion went on a search for the perfect woman. One problem, he couldn't find her (go figure). So he decided to build one. He had the perfect woman carved out of stone and he fell madly in love with her. The only problem? She was made of stone. Aphrodite felt bad for him (I'm not sure why) and turned his woman of stone into flesh. A true love story indeed.
In the field of psychology there is a phenomenon based on this myth. I learned about it in a family relations class I took in college and it has always fascinated me, because I've found it to be crazy true.
The Pygmalion Project is a struggle going on beneath the surface in relationships. Basically, each member of the couple is trying to change the other into their "perfect" mate. The problem is, they were attracted to their mate for a reason and part of that reason is their "imperfection." If they succeed in their efforts, they are often disappointed, because the person they fell for isn't the same anymore.
I started thinking, Are we doing the same with God? Am I trying to change the image I have of God? And what happens if I succeed? When I attribute characteristics to God that aren't true, I am doing that very thing. It may be impossible to change God as you can change the person you're in a relationship with, but you can certainly change, dilute, or distort your image of God. I can easily start to believe untruths about God. When I do that I am pretty much composing my own god out of stone. A god that accepts my sin. A god that brushes over my mistakes. A god that is mellow. A god that is passive.
If I'm honest, I am much more comfortable with a loving, always accepting, grandpa, teddy bear of a god. I am much more comfortable with a passive god, because that means I get to be in control. I think the root of this is biblical. In Genesis 3 it talks about "a woman's desire being for her husband." What that means is a desire for his position, a desire to be in control, and I think that desire does not end with "my husband's" position, I think I'm after God's too. In fact, I often breeze over, excuse, and belittle my sin, when in fact, God is far from cool with it, though He graciously forgives it.
Men distort their image of God too. Their ideal god is cool with their sexual immorality. At the very least he tolerates it. Don't believe me? Check out every religion created by men, it ALWAYS involves a distorted view of sexuality. Mormons? polygamy. Islam? a buttload of virgins. The greeks? Oracle sex. And the list goes on and on, but it is not just limited to other religions. Lets face it, guys would really like it if God was cool with or glazed over their desire for pornography or their lust for other women. The issue is rarely talked about publicly, but is a secret struggle for many good men. When the truth is, God is far from tolerate of it. Though He provided mercifully for it's covering a long time ago.
If we're not careful, if I'm not careful, to preserve my image of God for who He really is, I'll attribute characteristics to him that are untrue. I'll in effect change Him into someone I'm more comfortable with and in the meantime I'll be creating my own god of stone. The result is not only that I have distorted His image, but I am no longer attracted to Him or desire Him, because the god I've created is no longer holy, righteous, or just. I've succeeded in completing my own version of the Pygmalion Project. He is no longer Him and most likely I'll blame Him for my lack of desire for Him. I'll wonder why He's become silent. I'll cry out to my god of stone, while a holy, perfect and true God is waiting for me to acknowledge Him for who He truly is.
Is your god a god of flesh or stone?