Monday, December 6, 2010

Imago Dei ... Imago Christi ... And You!

Sermon for Christ the King Sunday
November 21, 2010
Fr. Phil Eberhart
Resurrection Anglican Fellowship
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Today is Christ the King Sunday. Our readings bring out God’s plan to reconcile all things in heaven and earth in the person of Jesus Christ. Friends, it REALLY IS all about Jesus! This morning I want to look for a moment at the Image of God in Christ and then consider the Image of Christ in You … and me.

IMAGO DEI
Our reading in Colossians is perhaps the clearest instance in scripture of a statement of Jesus Christ’s position and work in relation to God: “The image of the invisible God!
… In Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things … through the blood of His Cross.”


This morning I just want to consider the use of the word IMAGE - directly from the Greek here we get our word, ICON. We see this word twenty-three (23) times in the NT, -- well over half in regard to idolatry, or the wrong use of images – something that the western church has rejected during the reformation period when the Anglican church was born. We are products of that mindset, so we struggle a bit with the use of an ICON today.

In the Eastern Orthodox traditions, rich with iconography, the icon serves as a “window” into the life and character of the person depicted. The icon is intended to give a focus to meditation – but is not a living force to worship!!

Jesus Christ, on the other hand, as the ICON OF GOD is both the representation of all the glory of God: Paul tell us in 2 Cor 4:4 that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the IKON – the image of God.” And Jesus is not only the representation, he is the representative! As we saw in our reading from Colossians: “In Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” Similarly, later in Colossians 2:9 Paul tells us: “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form…”

This idea of FULLNESS is one that Paul uses throughout the whole argument. Jesus is the complete revelation of God to us! Nothing is left out! We can study Him and His life, His thoughts and actions, His relationships and methods, and go ever deeper into His personal words and public works and never find anything that doesn’t fully reflect God!

ALL FULLNESS!! (And All means … ? ALL!!)

The Apostle John in his gospel, also starts from this point: in 1:14 “…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, FULL of grace and truth…” and in 16: “… of His FULLNESS we have all received, and grace upon grace.” And finally in 18: “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”

But Paul, interestingly, also uses that concept of fullness repeatedly in his talk about the relative position and work of the Body of Christ! And this is where the rubber hits the road for us.

In our studies in the Ephesian letter from Paul, we see this over and over and over. As we look at the word FULLNESS itself, the Greek useage, where it refers to the Body of believers is “that which is filled with the presence, power, agency, [and] riches of God and of Christ.” (Thayer). Eph 3:19 “that ye may become a body wholly filled and flooded by God.”

SOOOOOO… if Christ is the image of God in the world. Who is the Image of Christ IN the world?

IMAGO CHRISTI
Paul tells us, also, that we – the Body of Christ – are being transformed into His image:
“We all, with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same IMAGE from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

Paul is quite clear in several places that this is our destiny as Christians: to look like Jesus! In the 3rd chapter of this Colossian letter he says we “have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the IMAGE of the One who created him.”

Paul, writing to the Romans in a very familiar verse from the 8th chapter, verse 28:
“we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” But Paul continues on in this regard:
“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to THE IMAGE OF HIS SON, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
And these whom He predestined He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things:
(HMMMMM)? If God is for us, who is against us?

God who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

HMMMMM INDEED!!

Christ is the Image of God and We are the Image of Christ! We, the Church! We… REZ!l

But the question then is quite simple: What do people see when they look at us?

What do you see of the Imago Christi in this Body of Christ?

The Word tells us that we overcome by The Blood of the Lamb AND The Word of our Testimony? Let me ask again: What do you see of the Imago Christi in THIS Body of Christ? How is God working among us, and in us and through us? How is Christ visible in our lives and in our community of fellowship , our common life? What transformation is occurring? How is LOVE manifest? Where can we see God’s Power working? What are the coincidences in your life? In our life together?

One of our Eucharistic prayers says, “Open our eyes, Lord, to see your hand at work in the world about us.”

If Christ is the image of the invisible God --- and we are being made new in the Image of Christ --- where can we see that happening? I want to put the question to you and to us this morning, as we approach this Thanksgiving holiday and as we approach the new year in Advent next Sunday.

Can you see God at work in your world? In your life? In your marriage or relationships? In your work or in your play? Can you point to it and say, “There it is!!”

That is the substance of our testimony! And that is precisely what having a “testimony” means: I can see God at work in the world around me, in my own life and in those I live my life with. And I want to “shout it from the housetops.”

Alleluia, the Lord is Risen!!
The Lord is Risen Indeed!! Alleluia!

Alleluia, Jesus is King!!
Jesus is King Indeed!! Alleluia Alleluia.

Amen !!

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