A god in My Image

January 30, 2009

We are told that we are made in God’s image.

What does that mean? It means a lot of things. I think one thing in particular, is that we are intended, even programmed to emulate, to imitate God. We talk about being molded or conformed to the image of Christ. We are made to take after the traits which God carries. His interests become our interests.

It’s a bit like the way a child takes on the interests, the habits, the patterns of a parent. Dads, do you watch a lot of football? Chances are, your son, maybe even your daughter will eventually at least try to become interested. Same thing with moms who have a hobby. Whether the behavior is going to church, reading, sports, watching TV, shouting, cursing, smoking, or anything else, a parent’s influence (positive or negative) is often paramount in a child developing an interest in those things. A child’s life is spent being made in their parents’ image.

It’s so universal, I’d say our desire to emulate one bigger than us is unconscious.

Now God said, ‘Don’t make idols for yourselves. I am your God.’ As if God knew what was best. Idols are fun, and they make us feel good, and that’s why people have always substituted an idol for God.

We form a god in our image. If we are uncomfortable with an image of God in the Bible, we substitute out something more pleasant. If we do not know the God of the Bible, we cobble together an image that seems likely. We form an idol based on our perception of who God is, not necessarily who he says he is.

What if it wasn’t just God’s jealousy for our worship that caused him to make that command?

What if those idols we carved out in our minds, the idols we made in our image, the idols we own, ended up owning us? What if that idol really did become our god, and began to form us in its image.

If your image of God is love and compassion, you’ll be influenced to imitate that. If your false impression of God is one of dispassionate apathy, won’t that idol influence you? If you look at the Bible call God ‘Father,’ but have a negative image of your father, won’t that idol influence you, make you in its image? Won’t you be molded into the image of wealth and greed if you place your trust and worship in earthly treasures? If you think of Jesus as a guy at a party with a tuxedo T shirt, thrashing in a mosh pit, won’t that be reflected in your life?

Those idols we shape with our hearts don’t just sit on a shelf. Those idols have hands too. They reach back and shape us in their image. The idols we own end up owning us.

Have a great weekend, everyone! I hope God blesses each of you and your churches this weekend.