Summary: We’ve seen artist’s renditions of Jesus. The flowing blond locks, bright blue eyes and the light skin. Why this portrayal? Some might say to just put a face to what the bible has kept a secret. However, it subtly alludes to a deeper meaning. And that is t
MOLDING GOD INTO OUR IMAGE
INTRODUCTION: We’ve seen it a hundreds times-the American artist’s renditions of Jesus. We see the flowing blond locks and the bright blue eyes and the light skin. And why this portrayal? Some might say to just put a face to what the bible has kept a secret. However, it subtly alludes to a deeper meaning. And that is to be able to make Jesus just like us. And although he was like us in a human way, we can take that too far to where we make him too much like us. What’s so dangerous about that? [Friend but also Lord]
1) We minimize his deity. I preached a little while back about the need for us to be molded into God’s image. That’s because he is God and we are not. When we make the mistake of molding God into our image we are basically reversing the roles. We are minimizing his deity and maximizing ours. In an article for Men of Integrity, Jonathan Sprowl writes, “What is Jesus like? If you're like me, you've asked yourself this question many times. I'd like to think I can be totally objective when I answer this question, but sadly, it's easy to just imagine that he's like me. And I'm not the first person to fall into that trap. Take a look at paintings of Jesus from different cultures. If you're American, like me, you've probably seen one of Warner Sallman's many paintings of Jesus. He has long, flowing hair and sharp Anglo-Saxon features. He wears a serene look on his face with a kind of '40s Hollywood movie star glow about him. I've seen very few portraits of Jesus that make him look like the Jewish man that he was. This seems harmless enough on the surface. Why not make Jesus relatable to our cultural context? The problem is we don't stop at his external features. We remake him in our own image, bestowing him with our cultural values. In his American guise, he becomes a cosmic therapist or wealth bestower who just wants to make us comfortable and happy.” Part of minimizing God’s deity is minimizing his holiness. One of the reasons we mold God into our image is because in so doing we make him more tolerant of unholiness. We bestow him with our cultural values. We want so badly to be able to do what we want to do we make God into a being who is in line with our feelings toward our sinful thoughts and behaviors. We might have to ignore or twist scripture in order to do that but if we want to feel good about our badness we will do whatever it takes to feel comfortable in our flesh. In a devotional by Skye Jethani regarding his book, With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God, he writes, “Every semester Scot McKnight, professor of religious studies at North Park College in Chicago, gives his students a test on the first day of his Jesus class. The test begins with a series of questions about what the students think Jesus is like. Is he moody? Does he get nervous? Is he the life of the party or an introvert? The 24 questions are then followed by a second set—with slightly altered language—in which the students answer questions about their own personalities. McKnight is not the only one who has administered this exam; it has been field tested by other professionals as well. But the results are remarkably consistent—everyone thinks Jesus is just like them. McKnight added, "The test results also suggest that, even though we like to think we are becoming more like Jesus, the reverse is probably more the case: we try to make Jesus like ourselves." McKnight's personality questionnaire confirms what the French philosopher Voltaire said three centuries ago: "If God has made us in his image, we have returned him the favor." Another reason why it’s easy to mold God into our image is because it’s hard for us to wrap our brain around how God can be everywhere at the same time. It’s hard to fathom how God is not bound by time and every point in human history is now to God. It’s hard for us to understand how God had no beginning. We measure everything by time so it’s hard to imagine anything not being subject to the restraints of time. God is not like us in that he is not limited by time or space. God can be everywhere at the same time. The word for that is omnipresent. That’s what God is. If we make him out to be anything less, we minimize his deity. There are some things about God that we just won’t understand right now. But to try to spend our time figuring God out can be like the young boy Augustine came across. Augustine, the early Church father, was walking along the seashore one day and he came across a boy who had dug a hole next to the edge of the water. He was furiously going back and forth from the sea to the hole, with his little bucket, filling it up with sea water and then emptying it in the hole. Augustine asked him, “What are you trying to do?” The little boy responded, “I’m pouring the sea into this hole”. Trying to wrap our finite brain around something as infinitely magnificent as God is like trying to fit the sea into a hole on the beach-it isn’t going to happen. Rom. 11:33-36. He’s God; we aren’t.