Images Distort the Truth About God

Images Distort the Truth About God

For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
—Romans 1:25

Whenever you reduce the glory of God to an image, the result is going to be disappointment.

Now, I know I’m treading on some sensitive topics here, but people will invariably ask, “What about those pictures of Jesus that we use in Sunday school class or that we grew up with? Is it wrong to have a picture of Jesus?” Here’s the problem with those pictures of Jesus. Different pictures appeal to different people. There are some people who like to think of Jesus as strong and muscular. Other people like the meek-and-mild version of Jesus. By the way, the image you like has a lot to do with your ethnicity and your country of origin. There are some pictures of Jesus that would completely turn you off or turn somebody else off. Images invariably reduce the glory of God, and they result of disappointment. That’s why the Second Commandment says we need to refrain from using images as aids to our worship of the one true God.

Not only that, but images distort the truth about God. You see, one reason people feel compelled to reduce God to some image or statue is so that God becomes more manageable to them. If they can reduce God to something tangible, then they feel somehow He can be more manageable.

As one commentator notes, “By making the god or goddess in the shape of something in nature, we create a mechanism for influencing that god or goddess.” And that’s why superstition often accompanies idolatry. When we reduce God to an image or to a statue, something tangible, we think we can exercise control over that image and somehow control our own destiny. We can impose on that statue who we think God ought to be.

By the way, that is exactly the sin Paul referred to in Romans 1:22–25. Paul says, “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

Do you see a progression here? They reduced God to something tangible—a statue in the form of a man or an animal. And then once they reduced God to something manageable, something tangible, they then imposed their ideas of what God should be—in this case, a god of sexual promiscuity. They reduced and then distorted the truth about God.

That’s the danger of images. Once you reduce God to an image, you can’t help but distort God to be whatever you want Him to become.

 

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Danger of Downsizing” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.