Youth Bible Study – Views of God
Using art as a way in this Youth Bible study explores how our own perspectives and view points inform our understanding of god.
You will need a copy of Avril Paton’s famous Scottish painting ‘Windows in the West’ (see image above). You will be able to find larger images of the painting by searching the name of the painting with the artist online.
Together with your group spend some time looking at Avril Paton’s painting ‘Windows in the West’.
- What is the first thing you notice?
- Where and when is the scene set? Church, Youth, Bible Study,
- Is it a realistic scene?
- From whose perspective are you looking?
- What might the people looking out of the window see?
When we look at a piece of artwork we bring a lot of our own ideas to it. A person from Glasgow might be familiar with similar style tenements and may view Windows in the West very differently in comparison with someone from America’s mid-West. How we view stories and passages in the Bible is influenced by our own cultural viewpoint and experiences.
Bible Reading and Discussion
Read Exodus 32:1-14 from The Message.
- Given that God had led them to safety from Egypt why do you think the people started to panic now?
- God and Moses had seemingly disappeared. Do you think the people’s worries were justified?
- What do you think of the picture of God that is being painted in this story?
- Does God get angry? If so, what do you think makes God angry today?
- What makes you angry?
From our 21st century perspective today’s passage may seem a challenging one. The notion that God was so prepared to destroy the people in a fit of anger and rage does not sit comfortably with our understanding of ‘God as Love’. Is it any wonder though that this wandering tribe would understand God in this way after experiencing the brutality of slavery in Egypt, being exposed to the harshness of an unforgiving environment, and no doubt exposed to other belief systems where the gods would act on a whim, often seeming to lash out?
Taking It Further
Encourage your group individually to create a personal timeline. They might want to mark off when and where they were born, first memory, first holiday, moving home, first song they downloaded and so on. It really could be anything they deem as important in the story of their life. Allow time for your young people to feedback and to share if they want to about their personal timelines.
- In what three major ways have they changed most? (Interests? Hobbies? Looks? Different School? New House?)
Brian McLaren suggests, “that the human conception of God evolves over time in the Bible, first from a deity who quickly employs violence, then to a God who is long suffering and ‘slow to anger,’ and finally to a God who is utterly nonviolent— depicted in Jesus, forgiving while rejected and killed.”
- How might our own view and understanding of God change as we change?