30 August 2007

The Image of God

In the Second Commandment, and elsewhere in Scripture (Exodus 20, Leviticus 26, Deut. 4, etc), we are forbidden to make or worship images of God. It is not for us to discover the form of God by our imagination. Rather, God has revealed Himself, and we are obliged to respond accordingly by worshipping Him in spirit and truth. Otherwise our religion is reduced to pagan idolatry.

We can only know God through His Son, Jesus Christ - the image of the invisible God – who, “for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.” To know Christ is to truly know God and experience His redeeming love.

Can we then depict Christ by pictures and statues since He possesses a true human nature? No, not least because we do not know how He looked like. The hundreds of different pictures of Jesus testify against each other that they are false images. What is called a picture or a statue of Christ is not His true likeness. Like the idols of old, the modern portrayal of the Lord is “a teacher of lies” (Hab. 2:18).

Moreover, Jesus is the true God, and therefore the only appropriate response to seeing His image is worship and adoration. Sadly, the “Jesus” imprinted on the mind by artistic creations is “another Jesus” – an idol. False images leads to false worship. Let us not be deceived!

Through the teaching of the Scriptures, Christians have a living relationship with the Lord. During our short pilgrimage on earth, we are content to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). We love the Lord Jesus even though we have never seen Him with our physical eyes. We, Christ's bride, are waiting for our Beloved to come for us from heaven. “Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8). Eagerly we wait for that glorious day when “we shall see him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Then our joy will be complete.

If the apostle John was here today, he would repeat what he told the Christians in the first century, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).