Transcript Our Image of God and our Morality - Part 1 Welcome to our first lesson on fundamental moral theology. Our first lesson is on our image of God and our morality Starting Point of Morality Let us begin with the starting point of morality. Morality properly begins with God and God’s love for us. God loves us first and our moral life is our response. This is a very important point in moral theology. God makes the first move to love us. God takes the first step in building a relationship with us and our response to God’s love is shown in our moral life. Therefore, our image of God is very important; how we imagine God affects our moral life. If our image of God emphasizes love and mercy, then our relationship with God and others will be shaped and guided by love and mercy. So, in this lesson I would like to invite you to reflect on your own image of God, to reflect on how you relate with God and how that relationship affects your relationship with others. The best image we have of God’s love is Christ who is the fullness of God’s revelation of Himself. If we want to get to know God and his love, we have to turn to Christ in scripture. When we look to Christ in the Gospels we see the perfect expression of God’s love for us. The proper moral response to God’s love is to live a life in imitation of Christ. This is all that God asks of us, that we should follow His Son, that we should imitate the example of Christ in our lives. The Lord says to each one of us, “Come follow me,” and we respond by being his disciples and following his example of love in our lives. Images of God’s love Let us now turn to images of God’s love. In the Gospels we encounter a variety of images that reveal to us the depth, the greatness, and perfection of God’s love. It is important to consider these images as guides for our moral response to God. We will take up three authentic images of God in the Gospels and let us try to see what each of these images teach us about how God loves us and how we can respond to God’s love with our moral life. So, let us now begin our consideration of images of God in the Gospels The Father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son The first image we will consider is the image of the father in the parable of the prodigal son. We are all familiar with this parable, how the son asked for his inheritance from his father and left him and went off to live a sinful and selfish life. The father who loves him so much waited for him patiently to return. When the son eventually came home the father welcomed him with open arms. He did not even allow the son to finish what he had to say. The father was not interested in any apology or any restitution from his son. He was just joyful that his son is back in his arms, is back home, and that he and his son are once more together. What do we learn about God’s love in this parable? We learn that God’s love is unconditional. We have to take this very point seriously. God will love us no matter what we do. God will love us no matter what situation we find ourselves in. God’s love for us does not depend on our behavior – our sins do not lessen God’s love nor our good works increase God’s love. Now this might be a surprise for some people who have grown up with the idea that if you do good things God will love you more and if you do bad things God will love you less. But this idea is wrong because God will love us no matter what. That God will love us 100% of the time and that God will never change his love for us. God does not force us to love him; He does not set any conditions. God invites us to communion with Him. The Good Shepherd The second image that we will consider is the image of the Good Shepherd. The image of the Good Shepherd reveals to us the mercy and compassion of God God does not desire that anyone would be lost to sin. The Good Shepherd will seek the lost sheep even if it will mean pain and sacrifice for him. Even if he has to go to dangerous places, he will look for the missing sheep. God has compassion for sinners. God does not want anyone to be separated from him. God will go out of his way to bring us back home to him. So mercy is always God’s response to sin. The Suffering God Our third and final image is the image of the suffering God. We read in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God’s love for us is so great that he is willing to suffer for us. It is so great that he is willing to die for us. It is so great that he is willing to give up His one and only Son so that we can have a share in His divine life. God’s love is greater than death, greater than sin, and that all that God desires is that we all be saved and be united with Him. As we end part 1 of our presentation, you can pause and reflect on your own image of God. Have any of the three images presented given you new insight in how you should relate with God? If you are ready you can proceed with Part 2.