I like it when the preacher gives a homework assignment. Let me tell you about it. During last Sunday’s sermon, our pastor was in the text from Mark that talks about images. Here is the section: “And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, ‘Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?’ But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, ‘Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.’ And they brought one. And he said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ They said to him, ‘Caesar’s.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they marveled at him.” (Mark 12:13-17) The things that are stamped with Caesar’s image are his, and the things that are stamped with God’s image are his. This reality changes, or should change, my view of my thinking, behaviors, resources, schedule and my purposes in life.
Consider three distinct truths tied to “the image of God.” One is found in the Genesis creation account one has to do with proper worship and one is said of Jesus Christ. In the creation account, God says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Imaging God means that we rightly display him in the world. It means that I think like, speak like and act like him, if I am properly imaging him.
In Psalm 106:20 the psalmist says wrong worship includes exchanging God’s image for a vegetation-eating ox. “They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.” God calls this foolhardy in Romans 1:22-23 “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”
And about Jesus the scriptures say, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Colossians 1:15 A “Christian” is only Christian if he or she looks like Christ. Anything less is wrong imaging.
The homework for the message was to think about someone who rightly images God. God is kind, loving, just, speaks the truth and he cares about widows, aliens and orphans. He gives good gifts to his children. He gives rain to the just and the unjust. He is patient and he is not willing that any would perish, but that they would come to repentance and be changed to rightly image him. Those attributes remind me of my mom. She was loving and kind. She sought to tell the truth. She cared about the downtrodden prisoners and wrote to them in prison. She drove her widow friends to their doctor’s appointments at great inconvenience to herself. She was patient with her children, and especially her son named Wayne. She looked for ways to give good gifts to her children. And she desired that all her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would repent and rightly image her loving Father. That is what it means to image God properly. That is only possible when we truly understand the work of justification and the ongoing work of sanctification that God desires to do to change us.
I hope I look more-and-more like my mom every passing day. Not just my outward appearance, but the inward person. Here is what the Apostle Paul said: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
Who are you imaging? That is a very important question.