Idols or aids? - Hope 103.2

Idols or aids?

By David ReayTuesday 9 Dec 2014LifeWords DevotionalsCultureReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Isaiah 40:18-20

18     To whom can you compare God?
             What image can you find to resemble him?
19     Can he be compared to an idol formed in a mold,
             overlaid with gold,and decorated with silver chains?
20     Or if people are too poor for that,
             they might at least choose wood that won’t decay
          and a skilled craftsman
             to carve an image that won’t fall down! (NLT)

Hundreds of years ago,many churches in England were stripped of ornamentation and decoration because these were seen as idols distracting from the reality of God. And some of them had become attached to superstitions and undoubtedly led to some worshipping the image rather than the God it was meant to point towards.

Texts like our one today warn against such idolatry: confusing the invisible and mighty God with a human-crafted object. And yet each of us make for ourselves an ‘image’ of God. We imagine him in all sorts of ways: we actually can’t help doing so. We might argue that Jesus is the only true image of God,but even then we find ourselves imagining him as we speak of him. We give him some shape in our minds.

In fact,imaginations are inevitable. And even some physical objects such as a cross or even a stained-glass window can be helpful aids to focus on God. When we hear of some Christians wanting to get rid of crosses from churches we might wonder if things have gone too far. A painting,an icon,a piece of sculpture,a cross,all can help us focus on the true and ultimately indefinable God.

All such things are harmful if they become gods to us. But they can be very helpful if they aid us in grasping a small something of the utter greatness of God. They are like signposts to the Grand Canyon. Not the Grand Canyon itself,but a guide to getting there.

David Reay