Theology 101 — An Image Disclosed

Thinking about images

By Jerry Batson, Th.D.
Special to The Alabama Baptist

Last week we gave thought to the diminishing of God’s image in His human creation caused by sin.

Continuing to think about images this week Theology 101 turns to Christ’s role in revealing the image and likeness of God.

Christ came into the world to show us what our invisible God is like. Those who first encountered Him came to believe and declare “the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).

Although God made mortals in His own image and thereby bestowed on us the dignity of being His image bearers, the concept of godlikeness never reached a higher level than when Christ came into the world as the perfect image of our invisible God.

Visible manifestations

No one has seen God at any time since God is Spirit. It took the incarnation for the invisible God to become visible to human eyes. God had previously manifested His glory in visible manifestations such as wind, fire or clouds. But those visible manifestations were not essential or exact images of God Himself. Visible manifestations of divine glory were not in themselves representations of God but manifestations of His presence.

Christ understood a part of the purpose of His entry into the world was that He might display what the image of God looks like in human flesh without any diminishing and distorting of that image by sin. In light of this purpose Christ declared on one occasion that He and the Father were one, saying at the conclusion of His claim to be the Good Shepherd, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30).

‘From glory to glory’

That being true He was also able to declare anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father (John 14:9). Early followers of Christ confessed Him to be “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), even “the express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3). In the days of His flesh Christ portrayed what God is like — in conduct, in words and in character.

The advent of cellphones has put into the English language the word “selfie.” A selfie is a picture that includes the phone’s user.

God’s “selfie” was His Son made flesh in order to dwell among people thereby enabling us to gain insight into what God is like. The glory in this truth is we can be “transformed into that same image from glory to glory just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). We’ll think more about this next week.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Jerry Batson is a retired Alabama Baptist pastor who also has served as associate dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University and professor of several schools of religion during his career. 

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