The Image That Transforms
With the Advent of Jesus, we see the icon of God, the One in whom the otherwise invisible God is seen. The word icon comes from the Greek word for “image” (eikon). While it is idolatrous for humans to make and worship icons of God (Lev 19:4; 26:1), it’s certainly not idolatrous for us to worship the One whom God himself presents as his icon. We only know and worship God fully when we know and worship God’s icon (1 Jn 2:23; 5:20). Idolatry takes place when we don’t allow God to define himself for us in Christ but rather embrace a picture of God on the basis of our life experiences, philosophical speculations, or non-Christ-centered interpretations of Scripture. And this idolatry blinds us and puts us in spiritual bondage.
Our spiritual transformation depends upon us seeing the icon of God for what it really is. We are transformed to the degree that the Spirit removes the veil that hides the truth of the icon so that we can see the glory of God uncovered in the One who is his image, Jesus Christ.
In 2 Corinthians, this point is made through the use of the story in Exodus 34 about Moses having to veil the brightness of God’s glory after he received the Ten Commandments. Paul maintains that the glory of God is still veiled to unbelieving Jews, for “their minds were hardened” and “only in Christ is [the veil] set aside (2 Cor 3:14). Paul writes, “To this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds,” for they cannot see that all Scripture points to Jesus (2 Cor 3:15).
“When one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed” (2 Cor 3:16). Christ alone uncovers the true God for us. All who know God through Christ may “with unveiled faces” see “the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror.” And as we behold the glory we are “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18).
When our unveiled minds behold the radiant beauty of the true God in Jesus Christ, we are transformed into his beauty.
As we receive the love of God in Christ, we are transformed into his love.
As we fix our eyes on Jesus, we gradually become like Jesus.
Our transformation is dependent on the picture of God we embrace in our mind and heart. And the picture (icon) God gives us is Jesus.
The truth of the good news of Jesus is “veiled to those who are perishing,” for “the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:3-4). The serpent’s deception blinds them to the truth that will set them free.
To believers, however, “the God who said, ‘Let light shine our in 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 Cor 4:6). Believers have received a light that the veiled minds of non-believers cannot receive. Consequently, we are able to trust God and be transformed as we see the glory of the One who is his true image. He is the one who loves us to the point of coming to earth, becoming human, and dying a hellish death for us.
—Adapted from Is God to Blame?, pages 31-33