Summary: Picturing the face and presence of God
How many of us throughout our lives ever tried to imagine what God looks like? Do you think of the Sistine Chapel? Maybe you see the statue of Zeus, or maybe some may even think of George Burns or Morgan Freeman. While none of these truly represent who God is or what he may look like, they do represent an image.
They give us a starting point if you will. A point of reference that allows us to have some concept of our Living God. When the artist Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, he and Pope Julius II had gotten into a lengthy and heated argument over a visible symbol of God being painted on the ceiling. Why? Because the pope feared that people would associate this image as to what God really looks like, and begin to worship the painting rather than the real God.
In our reading about the Colossians, we see a church that is wondering who Jesus is and who God is. We see a church contemplating whether Jesus is truly the physical representation of God or a prophet who was sent to show us how much God is a part of us.
One of the interesting things about Paul’s letter to the Colossians is the fact that Paul had yet to even visit Colossae. This wasn’t a Paulian Church per se it was started by a man name Epaphras.
So here is Paul, writing their church to tell them about the image of God through Christ. Listen to words he uses to describe Jesus,
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Col 1:15NJB
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Col 1:17 NJB
He is the head of the body, the church. Col 1:18a NJB
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. Col 1:18b NJB
In these verses Paul is telling them that Christ Jesus is not only the true living Son of God, but more over he is also God himself. In verse 15 he describes Jesus as the visible image of God, and in verse 17 says He is before all things and holds everything together. Who else but God could Jesus be in that He is the creator and sustainer for the entire world?
Paul goes on to say in verses 19 through 22 the following:
For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight, (Col. 1:19-22 NKJV)
In other words, Paul is telling the Colossians that God took on the flesh of a man so that he could reconcile all the sins of the world by being sacrificed upon the cross so that we the Gentiles should come to be forgiven before God.
So what kind of image does this paint for you of our God? Do you share the same image that Paul has of God? How would have you approached the Colossians on this matter?
I know that our scripture readings for today present several different views of God. In Amos chapter 8, we see a God as the Judge of the Samaritans. He tells the Amos to go to the people namely the King Jeroboam of Israel and the chief priest Amaziah repent of all their actions.
Throughout the book of Amos we see God as a Just Judge, one who punishes those who do evil before Him, but also one who shows mercy to those who repent.
In our Gospel reading, we are given yet another totally different image of God. It is the image of God as approachable and as a teacher. We see Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus taking in all that he has to tell her. In the same way we see Martha working to serve the Lord her God. Even when He rebukes Martha for her scolding of Mary, we see it done with love.
We see through Jesus, God as not only a father figure, but a friend, a teacher, and a confidante. No longer do we hide in fear of his wrath upon us. Now we can approach the throne. Now we are able to tell God how much we love Him. We are able to show Him our love for Him through worship, ministry, and devotion.
The song, “I Can Only Imagine” refrain goes... Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still? Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah or will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine.