A couple of Sundays ago, we had a great time in worship reflecting on who God is and how we relate to Him. We had the privilege of having Kai Nilsen come to help us celebrate what God is doing in and through our small groups at our annual Discipleship Banquet and during our Sunday services.

He began with an illustration of an experiment that the Canon camera company held where they asked six photographers to shoot a portrait of the same man. Each photographer was told something different about the man, and each was asked to photograph him for an article being written about him. One photographer was told the man was a millionaire, another was told he was a fisherman, another he was recently released from prison, another he had recently saved someone’s life, another he was a recovering alcoholic and finally the last photographer was told he was a psychic. You can view the resulting photographs here.

The photographs were so very different that it was hard to believe that the same man was the subject of them all. Kai shared with us that Canon did research to see if people could match the correct occupation with its corresponding photo. With ease, people were able to positively identify the photographs without any explanation. The photograph of the millionaire looked like a man of power and wealth. The photograph of the lifesaver looked confident and happy. The ex-con looked shady and a tad like someone you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley.

Canon came to the conclusion that, “A photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what’s in front of it.”

The point of Kai’s illustration was to bring into question our understanding of the character and nature of God. What are the things that have shaped our ideas about who God is? Is it possible that we, like the six photographers, have such preconceived ideas about God that our understanding has been shaped by our childhood, our culture and our experiences? Find some time this week to ask God to reveal to you some of the ways that your view of Him has been shaped and defined. What things may need to be lovingly redefined in the light of the life and character of Christ?