Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In the image of God

A few years ago, I had layover for a day or two in Rome. My crew and I took advantage to the situation to see some of the sights including the Coliseum and St. Peter's Basilica. The Basilica and other buildings in the Vatican contain significant portions of the world's most priceless art. One of these pieces of art I was privileged to see was Michelangelo's "Pietà."

In 1972, a mentally disturbed visitor attacked the statue with a hammer, breaking chunks of stone from the images of Jesus and his mother, Mary. That damage was repaired long before I saw the statue, but I recall there was considerable outrage over the attack. Why the anger? For two reasons:
▪ Pietà is a priceless, irreplaceable example of Renaissance sculpture by the great master, Michelangelo Buonarroti.
▪ The focus of this statue is an image of Jesus, the Christ, son of God.

I'd like to focus on that second reason for outrage. Is not that image simply a chunk of rock that is special only because has been chiseled into a certain shape? So, why the concern over a mere rock? People were angered because an image of Jesus was damaged.

The Christian world is filled with images of what countless artists believe Jesus looked like. But again, they are mere images on canvas or in stone.

Now, consider Genesis 1:27:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Like Adam and Eve, each of us is an image of God. Is not, therefore, each human body at least as sacred as that chunk of rock on which Michelangelo chiseled?

Dennis RodmanConsider the many ways that recent generations have desecrated this sacred body and image of God given to us by our Creator: Tattoos, piercings, bizarre jewelry, freakish hair, obesity, poor hygiene, irreverent attitude/behavior, and immodest dress -- all of which detract from, rather than enhance, the natural beauty of our image of God.

Mankind has devised many other ways of showing gross disregard for the image of God: Abortion, rape, assault, slothfulness, murder, homosexuality, consuming harmful and addictive substances, and pornography.

The Apostle Paul taught the significance of the body and the danger of purposefully defiling it:
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. — 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
As a society and as individuals, we have much repenting to do if we are to give at least as much respect to our God-given image of God as we do to a man-made image carved from a chunk of stone. We all must make the necessary effort to lift those around us who struggle with the desecration of God's image.

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