The Spectrum of Idolatry part 5 Image and Likeness

“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)

We get God. What an amazing trade-off. If I, through the abdication of my self–the giving up of everything I’d worked so hard to attain and maintain–get something higher, I’m all for it. But it’s an act of the will you understand.

“He must increase but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

Wean

It can be hard looking beyond both ourselves and also other people in order to receive what we think they’ll give us. I may be prescribing something that isn’t there but follow me here. At least let me describe it. If you only look outward to other people for things, intangibles that only God can give you, then you have a long way to go in life. God supplies us with those things of hope and encouragement and peace and purpose that we may incorrectly think others have and can give (or from whom we can take). Besides, no one wants to appear existentially needy in the face of everyone else. To so wear one’s heart on his sleeve that anyone observing turns away for fear is not how anyone wants to live, I think. I can attest to feeling tinges of this mania.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” (Genesis 1:26a-27)

Ween

Following the point made here by the Lord, it would seem that when we look at people, we’re actually looking at God. Is that too simple a one-to-One supposition? Think about it. At this point in my life, I most certainly haven’t wrapped my mind around the near-dichotomous simplicity of His statement. But growing up, all I saw was that God looked like a humanoid, if that makes sense. Two arms, two legs, His head in the same place as ours. This would be the default way of thinking “up” from my station as a human. And because I’ve always believed in God, I didn’t have any trouble positing Him in my mind. I couldn’t make out features, mind you. But the whole “image and likeness” thing was understood along these lines. Then as I grew up and grew older, the Holy Spirit began to intimate to me that I was indeed looking at Him through my own eyes. I needed a higher vantage point from which to see Him. I needed to see Him through the, how can I say this, “mind of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:16). God must reveal Himself to you, in other words. The word “image” in the above passage from Genesis has the connotation of “idol” in the Hebrew.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man… Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 1:13a-14)

And this is where idolatry comes in–on a human level. It’s one thing to love people. To unspool your heart out to others and give toward meeting their need. It’s all done towards the Lord. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40b) Says Jesus. Idolatry may be divorced from physical objects. But looking at people with the same vision God has given us to see–and that is supposed to be directed towards Him–is idolatry. Just because people are amazing and beautiful and intriguing and most certainly worth loving–inside and out–doesn’t mean it’s a substitute for knowing the Lord.

“Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.” (Lamentations 3:40-41)

“Wean” and “ween” come from the same root. While the former is more common and means to slowly disabuse (right word?) oneself from what might be a perfectly healthy-yet-now-outmoded thing, the latter word is almost the inverse. That they come from the same Indo-European root is intriguing in that the both deal with desire. The former meaning the end of one and the latter meaning to hope toward something.

“Whom have I in Heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.” (Psalm 73:25)

 

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