Healing Line

Healing Line

What Does God Have to Do with Christmas?

by Linda Strickland
Oct/Nov/Dec 2012

As a child I had a very poor image of God the Father. I had formed a picture of Him in my mind as a grim–faced old man with white hair and beard, fire in His eyes, sitting on a throne just waiting for me to be a bad girl so He could then punish me. The image I had of Him had nothing to do with my earthly father, who was kind and loving, but had everything to do with the (well–meaning) teachings I heard in church about the fire and brimstone God of the Old Testament. I can remember lying awake in my bed every night, confessing my sins over and over out of fear of what could happen if I didn't get it right. ("He's making a list, checking it twice — gonna find out who's naughty or nice.") During those adolescent years I must have asked Jesus to come into my heart a thousand times, just to make sure.

Contrasted with this image of God, on the other hand, was my image of Jesus. I have always loved Jesus! The stories I heard about Him made me feel safe and loved. The pictures of Him in my illustrated Bible for children revealed a man with kind, smiling eyes. He was often portrayed sitting with lambs and children — in a meadow or on a hillside. And then there were Christmas images of Him! Who could resist baby Jesus lying in the manger? Almost every little girl's dream is to play Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the annual Christmas pageant. Yes! I really loved Jesus.

Although it seems unbelievable to me now, I must admit that for a long time I never included God in the cast of Christmas characters. I have read and recited John 3:16 more times than I can count, and yet still, (for me) God didn't even make the credits at the end of the Christmas story. How could I so carelessly disregard the words that reveal the very reason we celebrate Christmas? "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son…"

In his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer says, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." He goes on to say, "The most portentous (or significant) fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like."

One of the most amazing healings I am privileged to witness at Christian Healing Ministries again and again is the healing of someone's distorted image of God. When this happens, it is as though scales fall from the person's eyes, and they are finally able to see God for who He really is. Once this healing takes place, people can also begin to see themselves as He sees them. The transformation that begins to take place within their identity is a beautiful thing to behold!

In our School of Healing Prayer® Level I, we present a teaching called, Healing Our Image of God. In this powerful lesson we explain that there are three main causes of a distorted image of God. The first one, with which I could identify, is a lack of knowledge about what God is truly like. People often become overly fearful of God based on what they have heard through teaching. Some well–meaning preachers and teachers try to appeal primarily to the fear of God in order to discourage sinful behavior. They teach that good behavior will be rewarded, while sinful behavior will bring about curses and punishment from God. Although reverential fear of God is healthy, excessive fear is damaging to one's personal relationship with Him.

A second hindrance to knowing God can come from our understanding of God's role in suffering and death. The truth is that suffering and death are among the greatest mysteries of life, and they lack full explanation. Some people, when faced with tragedy or loss, may be led to question whether or not God directly caused it. This kind of thinking can lead people to distrust God and fear getting close to Him. In the Book of Job, Job wrestles with these questions and tries to understand the reasons why he suffers so much. There is great mystery connected with suffering that none of us can understand.

A third obstacle to knowing God can come from poor relations with our parents and/or authority figures. Our experience with these significant and influential figures can leave us with a distorted or dysfunctional image of a father or mother. These distortions can then heavily influence our relationship with God our Father.

From my experience, both as someone who has been healed in this area and as a prayer minister, I believe it is essential to identify the root of where our image of God formed, good or bad, so that we can minister directly in that place. And for some of us, the healing of this relationship may take time because the distortions can be rooted so deeply. This healing is worth pursuing, because through the power of the Holy Spirit, amazing freedom can result.

I grew up in the church, and as a teenager, I dedicated my life to Christ around a fire one summer at camp. To be honest, for many years I didn't feel any different. I was like an unplugged toaster. Only after experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit did everything about the fullness of being a Christian fall into place. This included my relationship with Jesus and God the Father."And God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God's deep secrets." — I Corinthians 2:10

The presence of the Holy Spirit in my life also made me aware of the many places where I needed healing. My own healing in the area of how I viewed God brought remarkable transformation to my life. As a result of this marvelous healing, everything changed for me, including my own perception of myself; as a beloved child of God.

During this time of year, I am awestruck with wonder of God's love for us, and the fact that He came to earth through the birth of Jesus Christ. He did not come as a fire–breathing angry God ready to punish the human race, but rather He came in the most weak, vulnerable, and defenseless form: a baby. He came to dispel all of the lies that the enemy had perpetrated, to bring freedom and salvation.Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see. Everything was created through Him and for Him. He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together.

For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross. This includes you and me, who were once far away from God. We were his enemies, separated from Him by our evil thoughts and actions. Yet now He has reconciled us to Himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, He has brought us into His own presence, and we are holy and blameless as we stand before Him without a single fault. — Colossians 1:15–22, (paraphrased)

May God bless you, and all whom you love, this Holy Christmas season!

Linda Strickland Linda Strickland is CHM's Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt. Oct/Nov/Dec 2012