One of the most destructive mistakes in the growth of any relationship is to allow assumptions about a person's character to affect the personal discovery process. Sometimes it is a bad first impression that molds a false judgement. Sometimes it is stereotyping that kills the relationship before it can begin. The answer is, of course, to get to know someone personally.
In some cases a pile of misinformation, stereotypes and bad first impressions has to be worked through before a serious relationship can develop.
"I thought everyone who did that was..."
"He acted like that other guy and so..."
"Before we met I heard that she..."
One of the most popular God-stereotypes for religious people is the "Cosmic Policeman". This is the God who has a whistle in one hand and a large stick in the other. He only blows the whistle when we do something wrong, he dishes out our punishment with a whack from the happy stick of pain. To make things worse, the whistle, the pointing finger, and the whack are done in broad daylight so that everyone can see. The Cosmic Policeman gets his jollies by humiliating us in public. Occasionally, through the groveling and crying of "busted", he might show mercy, but it is probably just to induce a much-needed favor. He might even say, "There's going to be hell to pay if I catch you doing that again. I made you. I can make another one just like you!"
He can't really be like this, can He? If this were His true nature, what would it say about the meaning of life, the value of creation, the future of our world? How do you see God?
Distant cloud of nothingness?
Carl Sagan's nemesis?
Have you ever wondered where these stereotypes come from? First impressions? Secondhand information? Fairy tales? If we want to move closer to Him, we will have to kill these stereotypes and get to know the real Him, not the imagined Him. We will have to demand that He be all that God must really be.
Could He be God and be anything else? Then why settle for less?
Most of us have layers of stereotypes that we force God to wear. Wouldn't it be great if He could come to the party dressed as He really is? We might discover something beautiful behind the hearsay.
From "Enter the Worship Circle" by Ben Pasley