Last night, a full moon lit up the sky here on the hill as a three-dimensional bank of stars drew my eye upward into cold darkness. When daylight comes, evidence for a lavishly generous Creator arrives in living color. Even on a bleak February day, the evergreens stand out against a field of downed meadow grass, and a blue sky presides over it all.
There’s hardly a person anywhere–no matter how uncatechized–who will deny that nature’s beauty points to something greater. This is the stuff of safe conversations over appetizers, a topic that might fall under the umbrella of “spirituality.” And while it’s true that “by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear,” it is also true that God is revealed most completely in the person of Jesus Christ.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” (Colossians 1:15)
When Paul wrote that Christ imaged the invisible God, he used the Greek word from which we have derived the word icon. Jesus displayed the likeness of God, not merely so flannelgraph could be invented, nor to give Renaissance painters the bright idea of a blue-eyed Messiah. Christ, in every way, shows us what God is like. That’s what an image is for. Statues of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow here in Maine are intended to make us think about The Village Blacksmith and Paul Revere’s ride, not to draw attention to the wonders of marble or someone’s sculpting techniques.
Christ’s human nature became the blue print for all other human natures. We are intended to image forth the nature of God, and it is God’s intention to transform us until, one day, we reflect that image more faithfully than we do today. Amazing, right? One day we will reflect the image of God, the radiance of his glory, undeterred by sin or the Fall.
In the meantime, it’s easy (and trendy, even) to exult over the iridescent beauty of a hummingbird.
But how do we respond to the image of God, expressed in a howling, over-tired toddler?
The people who stand beside you in the pews today, your fellow hymn-singers and sermon amen-ers–even the ones who are hard for you to enjoy!–are all fellow image bearers. Jesus, the Word who made us, put feet to God’s intention to transform them (and us!) until we reflect his image, the likeness of the invisible God.
Rejoicing in the amazing hope of transformation,
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