October 16, 2011

The Image of the Invisible God

The true Son of God, the Word made flesh, the manifestation of the Father's glory once stood before a crowd of powerful people who in their cleverness wanted to trap him.   Politically astute, theologically sophisticated and financially secure, their wisdom proved folly before the foolishness of God. When the Lord was asked about whether to pay tax, He asked to be shown the coin by which the tax was to be paid.   "Whose is the image?"  "Caesar's" was the reply.  The Living Image of the invisible God rendered his verdict, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."  (See Matthew 22:21-22)

If we know what we owe Caesar because we recognize his image, how can we possibly begin to understand what we owe God if we will not ponder his only begotten Son?  Here the Son of God shows us the connection between the image of something and the reality it signifies.  One belongs to the other.  When we look at images of earthly powers and authorities we understand what we owe to those powers and authorities.   But how are we to know what we owe God?   And should we ever begin to fathom that debt, how should we ever pay it?

Those who first heard the Word made flesh were too trapped in malice to ponder these ramifications.  They did not understand the connection between the Living Image and the Truth of the Father He revealed.  They did not perceive in the poverty of God before their eyes the debt they owed to the One who made them.  Their hearts were closed to the wisdom by which they might render to God what is God's.  They could not recognize any of this in the Image of the invisible God because their anxiety driven self-reliant political, religious and financial world was a blinding trap.  So pulled down by petty struggles for power, they were unable to raise their eyes to the spiritual reality dawning in their very midst: they had no idea of the glory shining on them and were deaf to the wisdom thundering around them. If we allow ourselves to be self-satisfied and do not keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we could easily fall into the same trap.

When we behold God's only begotten Son, when we ponder how He emptied and humbled himself unto death on a cross, we catch the faintest outline of what we owe and our hearts are stirred with the conviction of how to pay it.  He wants us humbly to entrust to Him our misery -- it is the only thing we have that is really ours, everything else is really only a gift on loan from God.  And, in exchange for our confidence in Him to deal with the lack of love in our lives, He who reveals the inexhaustible love of the Father promises unimaginable glory.