You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (Exodus 20:4)
Our Jewish sisters and brothers are very focused on something from Genesis that is central to the human story. All of us are made in the image of God. While this generic truth is important to us as Christians, it seems to be even more deeply woven into the fabric of Judaism.
That’s why this commandment is so important and so early in the list. We are to be the image of God for the world. Our lives are to reflect the same goodness and creativity and commitment to the world that God has. Because God is love, we are to love. Because God is creative, we are to be creative. Because God is good, we are to be good. The list goes on. If it is of God, it should be of us.
For Christians, this connection to the image of God receives an added dimension. In our baptism, we are connected to Jesus. Paul refers to Jesus as the “new Adam.” What he means is, what creation started out to be finds its fulfillment in Jesus. If you want the best image of who God is and what God is about, we no longer look to the first people, we look to Jesus at the cross. “No one has seen the Father…” Jesus tells us. But we have seen Jesus and Jesus let’s us know what God looks like in the flesh.
Whenever we settle for something less than God to replace God, we deny our purpose in life. We are created to look like God, act like God, and to do God’s work. Idolatry means we look for a cheap and easy out to the call of discipleship. Rather than doing the hard work of making our lives reflect God’s image in ways that God desires, we simply cop out.
That’s why our Jewish brothers and sisters take this commandment to heart. Idolatry is a copout. God is the most important thing in our lives. Our lives are called to reflect and demonstrate that the God who made the world and the God who comes to us in Jesus are the most important things in our lives. Anything less is simply to miss the mark.
So this week, take a moment to look in the mirror. As you do, reflect on your work, your relationships, your character and your spirit. Do you look like God? If not in all the ways you wish, give thanks that we are saved by grace and not by works. God loves you anyway! But don’t settle for cheap grace. Allow God’s Spirit to speak to your heart and commit yourself to responding. Someone might just encounter a glimpse of God in your life and it may make a difference to both you and them!