“Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn before all creation.”
Colossians 1, 15
We are not meant to make ourselves an image of God (Exodus 20, 4). If it was left to us humans, a God would be a powerful, glorious appearance instilling fear and trembling in all of us. In the history of religions, such images of God were used to legitimise and justify violence, injustice towards the poor and the outsiders and the establishment of exclusive and elite societies and groups that lorded it over all the others. Our watchword puts a stop to this – the prohibition remains: don’t make yourself an image of God – but if you need to understand, even visualise what God is like look at Jesus of Nazareth – a frail, poor, weak human – who lived a life of grace, care and forgiveness – yearning to help all, especially those at the margins of society, those excluded, those oppressed and exploited. For this, he was crucified – and the ultimate “image of the invisible God” we Christians have been given is the crucified, who screams in agony: “My God, why have you forsaken me?!”
Oh, how desperately the world needs to see this image of God – and recognise in Jesus the radically new way of understanding what God intends for creation. That is why Jesus is called “the firstborn before all creation”. This was God’s intention from the beginning – a life of love, care, grace and acceptance for all – not an exclusive, elite upper-class ruling over the others. Can you imagine what our society would be like if we saw God in Jesus?