Self-Knowledge and God Knowledge

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

As we dive head-first into the dog days of summer, I’ve been looking for just the right beach read. I already read a lot of books that pertain to God, scripture, church and leadership. Lately I’ve been looking for something to read during a trip to the beach—something to read for fun.

No matter what other books I might take with me, I won’t leave behind Yes, and …, a book of daily meditations. It’s by Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest and prolific author. I love his writing style. He pulls no punches for those of us who call ourselves Christians. He calls out our hypocrisy and shallowness. Sometimes his words can sting, but that’s only because they’re true.

In one of his devotions he speaks of our “operative God image” as being a subtle combination of our mom, dad or any other important authority figure in our life. In order for us to move past that view of God (for some that can include an image that is unreliable, scolding or punitive), we must begin an “inner life of prayer and in-depth study of sacred texts.” If we stay stuck in this early “God talk” and skip the self-knowledge and inner journey, Rohr says we remain in a “sincere pretense.”

But if we immerse ourselves in prayer and scripture study, Rohr says our lives are changed forever. “The miracle of grace and true prayer is that they invade the unconscious mind and heart (where our real truth lies)—and thus really change us!” This allows the love of God and love of self to “proceed forward together.”

Rohr also shares a phrase that he considers a foundation in our faith. It is: Your image of God creates you. I find this phrase so powerful in its truth. If your image of God is that of an earthly mom or dad, then you will assign human faults and limitations to God’s mercy and love. Alternately, if your image of God is one of limitless power, love and forgiveness, you are freed to be the people God is calling us to be.

I hope you have a great rest of the summer. When you’re in town, I look forward to seeing you in church!


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Trinity United Methodist Church is located in McLean, VA. Our weekly worship services are on Sundays at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. and on Wednesdays at noon. Sunday School is at 9:30 a.m. for children and adults. Children up to 6th grade are also invited to Children's Education during the 10:30 service. Adult Bible Study also occurs on Mondays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. Please visit our website for more information.

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