Jesus – God's Selfie?
(Image: Unsplash / Toni Hukkanen)
The church's bulletin board was changed every week to promote the next Sunday sermon. I took a look at how I usually do when I pass by on the way to a funeral. "Jesus – God's Selfie" was the motto. No, I thought.
I connect & # 39; Selfies & # 39; with narcissistic tourists or manipulate & # 39; influencers & # 39; trying to find a following by posting them online. (I admit I've tried taking some selfies with very mixed results myself – but I wouldn't dream of posting them.)
It was very disgusting to see Jesus back then as a vain image of God.
I started to think.
A selfie captures an image of the photographer at a specific time, just like every photo. It is an instant picture, whether posed or not, taken at a certain angle. It doesn't have to be posted on Facebook. In itself, a selfie is simply a photo.
Jesus – God's Image?
Is Jesus like this? An image of God at a specific time, in a specific environment?
I realized that Jesus was a bit like that. He lived in a certain place and time for 33 years, was a carpenter as well as a rabbi and walking teacher. He knew the seasons, understood the geography and flora and fauna of his home country, belonged to a family and had friends and followers.
He understood the history and religious context of his home country and what it was like to live under the occupation of the Romans. He taught people and healed them and ruffled the feathers of the religious leaders at that time. He died a cruel death on the cross at the age of 33.
These are some of the details of the life of Jesus, his environment. That is the angle of the selfie.
A picture is more than just a selfie
However, this representation is not sufficient, just as a "selfie" will never be more than just a snapshot of a person. Every person is much more than a photo, selfie or not, even if it is flattering and carefully put.
As Paul the Apostle put it, Jesus is the “image of the invisible God”. When we see Jesus, we see what God is like in human terms. The term we use for this is not "selfie" but the word "incarnation". This word means that God is fully embodied in Jesus and is a much more complete word than "selfie" could ever be.
A man's life
Shortly afterwards I parked the car and went to the chapel on time for the funeral of a former colleague. "A lot of people come to this funeral," I remarked because the parking lot on the chapel site was already full.
The place of burial was overcrowded, as were the tributes to a beloved family man who had lived a fulfilling life. There have been many photos of him throughout his life and some wonderfully warm and human tributes to a man of faith who lived his life with integrity, humor and kindness.
I then thought about how this man had so confidently and naturally reflected the image of God at the time I had known him, and how many had come to his funeral to honor him. His funeral was a rich and comprehensive portrait of who he was and who he had been. It was much more than an instant picture.
Jesus – the incarnation of God
It is an indication of this when we think of Jesus and his "incarnation", but this word takes us even further than the word "portrait".
When we talk about the incarnation, we say that all qualities and character that can be found in God are also seen in Jesus. God is love – we see this love in Jesus. God is light – we see that in Jesus. God is a healer – we see how Jesus healed people. God is merciful – we see that mercy is expressed in the way Jesus treated people who knew their need for forgiveness and mercy. We see what God is like in the stories that Jesus told; The good Samaritan, the prodigal son, the prodigal sheep are examples. We can recognize God as the almighty, fully immanent presence because Jesus came back from the dead and promised to be with us always through His Spirit.
Jesus shows us what God really, really is
God is not unrecognizable, remote and someone or something to guess. God is not just a force. God must not be equated with "the universe" or another entity or being. It is in Jesus, we can get an idea of what God really is.
A "selfie" is a photo of a person. Jesus is also the image of God as a person, but because of the incarnation we can understand who God is much more than what a mere selfie can offer.
A portrait shows what the artist saw while he spent hours thinking about the subject and then choosing how to portray that person on canvas.
The incarnation goes far beyond a photo or portrait – it means that God comes in human form; God himself comes to live with us.
When I returned down the street after the funeral, I looked at the sign again. "Jesus – God's Selfie." Yes, I thought, but he's so much more. And we can get to know him as he is.
Courtesy of Press Service International