More than once I’ve had folks ask me about what is meant when we are said to be made in the image of God. After, God is a spirit, not a physical body, so how can we say we are made in His image?
Generally I will say that we are the only creatures that can have a relationship with God and so therefore we must be in some way in His image. Cats do not relate to God. Pigs do not relate to God. Kangaroos do not relate to God. Only people.
However, I had another thought this week while reading a book by Robert Sherman called Covenant, Community, and the Spirit. Early in the work Sherman writes about the relationship between the Persons of the Trinity and how we have been made by God for life in community. Now Sherman doesn’t connect the points like this but it occurred to me that being created for community by a God who is one God of three Persons, who has always and ever been in communion within Himself, gives us another definition of being made in the image of God.
I am told a growing number of people profess Christianity but want nothing to do with the organized Church. I have never understood this idea personally, but after thinking about our call to community as being a part of being made in the image of our Creator, I find myself very hostile toward such a view of a life of faith. It is contrary to our creation and, indeed, it is contrary to the Word of God found in the Scriptures.
The Lord has said it is not good for us to be alone. We generally think of that in terms of marriage, but it is also true about living the Christian life. Outside the embodied Church we are alone in a hostile world and our faith will be tried and tested over and again with no support from other believers. That’s a very hard life to live, especially since it really isn’t who we are.
Once again I’ve been quite negligent in writing on this blog. I don’t know why exactly, business, laziness, both–whatever. However I have returned today with some thoughts on the so-called “war against Christmas”. You know, the argument that everyone who says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas is being banal or politically correct, or dissing Christianity, or something.
Well I had a thought about it this week. I decided I am no longer bothered by people who say Happy Holidays, and that’s for several reasons. First, Merry Christmas is itself kind of meaningless phrase. What do they mean by “merry” and what do they mean by “Christmas”? You might think merry is the same as jocular or pleasant or some other adjective. I guess they leave it to us to decide which applies. And then there is the question of Christmas itself. Do they mean the festival of the Incarnation of our Lord, or maybe Santa Claus and festive food? If they mean the Incarnation I would contend that rather than merry, we should be reflective and filled with a sense of awe and astonishment. If they mean Santa and the food–well, I couldn’t care less.
I also think there is a good lesson for Christians when they hear someone say “Happy Holidays.” There is among a subset of American Christians the idea that this country is a “Christian country.” Hearing “Happy Holidays” should remind us all that it is clearly not a Christian country. In fact, it never was a Christian country and it never will be a Christian country because there is no such thing as a Christian country in this world. The Kingdom of God is the Christian “country”, the only Christian country that will ever exist. All the faithful are citizens of that country and resident aliens in this place in this age before the Lord’s return.
What most people call Christmas is neither about Christ nor does it involve a mass, it is instead a thoroughly secular holiday. And that is a great shame, but the more the culture moves away from a true celebration of the Nativity the more the Church can cling to it and give it a real meaning for those who know Christ as Lord. And in that counter cultural celebration the Name of Jesus will be lifted up and His chosen people will be edified.
Blessed Incarnation to you all.