“Mommy: What does God look like?” If you are a parent or have had the privilege of conversing with a young child when she asked that question, you likely had your hands full both because of the question asked and the list of questions associated with and connected to it that followed.
This edition of Issues strives to examine
- Views about human nature in the church’s history
- What the Lutheran tradition says about the image of God and our nature
- How these views compare and contrast to other claims at large in our culture
Particular attention is given to what and how we can effectively teach a Lutheran ethos about the image of God and how this helps our understanding and interpretation of those other claims.
That’s a tall order, and the articles and editorials contained herein are among the meatiest that have filled the pages of Issues during my time as publisher. The edition’s collective aim, I believe, is to have the reader step back, reflect and seek to answer the childlike question: what does God look like? But the task doesn’t end there. It continues and likely becomes more difficult as the reader is challenged to explore the limitless concept of humankind being made in the image of a God who exceeds our finite abilities to define and describe comprehensively.
“Daddy: What do I look like?” If you are a person living in a world stained and shattered by sin, the answer does not appear to be as simple as it once seemed. Biology no longer defines gender, and natural law no longer delineates marital union. We struggle desperately to understand who “we” are and what “we” look like—let alone to comprehend what it means that we are created in the image of God and called to live lives of faithful service to God and our neighbor, and do this with the looks, intellect and physique given at conception and carried to the grave.
Thus, throughout the pages of this edition you will find references to the biblical record and both the direct and tangential answers in response to the two childlike questions this Reflection seeks to frame. I suggest it is those biblical passages that we see with greatest clarity what God looks like and what we, created in His image, look like, as St. Paul records in 2 Corinthians:
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4: 3-6).
As we seek to comprehend the meaning of the image of God, we must, above all, see Christ Jesus “who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). As we see Jesus, we see, through eyes of faith, the God-man, who came to forgive, redeem and restore us so that through Him we are created, redeemed and restored to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13, 14).
“Mommy and Daddy: What does God look like? What do I look like?” Look often, look always at Jesus. In Him, find both answers!