Different Ways of Looking at God (January 1-22)

Teaching in General

The January 8 lesson, “Storm: God as Chaos,” reminds us that God defies our easy descriptions. God is infinite and beyond what our finite human minds can comprehend. Thus our teaching should resist easy answers. Be comfortable with “I don’t know.” Learn to accept ambiguity at times. God sometimes can be found in the tension between what seems to us like contradictory ideas. This is not easy for us as teachers, because we want our students to go away feeling like they have the answer. We want to ease their minds and comfort them. The goal of teaching for some, is to explain things simply so that everyone can understand. This is not the way Jesus taught. He answered questions with more questions. He told parables that confused, and sometimes irritated, listeners, but sent them home pondering the meaning of God for days. Parables can get under our skin and make us think so that, perhaps, eventually we might come to a deeper understanding of God and God’s plan for us. These parables can offer us different insights and meaning each time we reflect on them. Jesus rarely offered easy answers. Jesus recognized that God’s ways often appear to our human minds as if a chaotic storm.

“God is eternal, dependable, mysterious, powerful, active, confrontational, dangerous, and relentless…. God is inexhaustible, and studying God is like trying to capture the ocean in a teacup. We tiptoe to the edge of the ocean and dip our cups in the water, but we know there is more there than our little cups can possibly hold” (Formations Commentary, 23).

Introduction to the Unit

This unit explores some less traditional, less popular, images of God found in some Old Testament passages. These challenging images along with images of loving father, creator, protector, and others give us broader, though still limited, picture of God.

Be prepared for difficult questions that could arise as side issues:
•    How does God feel about war? (Jan. 1)
•    Does God cause natural disasters (storms)? (Jan. 8)
•    Is every bad thing that happens to us planned by God to make us stronger or as punishment for sin? (Jan. 15 & 22)