The Perfect Image

William C. Brownson

READ : Colossians 1:15-20

You shall not make for yourselves an idol . . . You shall not . . . worship them. (Ex. 20:4-5)

God instructed his people not to make for themselves idols. This was not to forbid art, sculpture, or the celebration of beauty. Didn’t God require ornate priestly ornaments, and figures of cherubim shadowing the mercy seat? What he warned against was worshiping such images, showing them undue reverence.

When I was in college, I was given a picture of Christ on the cross. I hung it on my wall, and would often kneel before it to pray. When later I prayed in another place, I found myself somehow missing that image. I learned that even an inspiring picture can attract undue attention and hinder worship. The Israelites discovered that, to their sorrow. They had Aaron make a golden calf for them as an aid to worship. Then they said of it, “These are your gods . . . who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” Their image became for them their savior.

Perhaps the deepest reason for God’s word against man-made images to represent him was this: He planned to give us his own image. In Jesus, we see God’s picture of himself. “He that has seen me,” said Jesus, “has seen the Father.” When we worship him, we are giving praise not to an idol but to the living God.


We praise you, Lord, that when we see you, we see the Father!