What Do You See When...?
What do you see when I ask you to "Picture" God?
What do you see? A church? A dove? Your pastor? A serene nature scene? What about a giant group of people? Hold that thought...
As a kid, I remember seeing pictures & posters in churches, Christian stores, etc. that would have "Jesus" or "God" in some sort of elegant script type-face... and it was always over some sort of nature background. You know... like a mountain peak... or the sun peaking through clouds. They were very much like the old motivational posters you'd see in classrooms in the 90's. Sometimes better done... sometimes far worse.
Today, we see very similar things on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (pick your favorite social media). You scroll down your feed long enough and you'll see the following... a meme, a Taylor Swift video, a "Jesus" motivational poster, a cat riding a vacuum... and so on.
Before I move any further... please know that I have no problem with beautiful nature backgrounds boasting God's handiwork. But a question remains. When we think of the image of God... the image of Jesus here on this earth... do we think of remote places in nature? Or do we think of His actual image-bearers? AKA - people.
When we picture God... do we see motivational posters, or do we see an uncountable amount of faces?
I once saw a tweet (and forgive me for not remembering who the author was) and they made known that they were in a densely populated city. They said something like this... "There is more of God's image per-square inch in the city than anywhere else on Earth."
Now, some people may be thinking, "I really connect to God when I'm alone in nature." I feel you, I really do. I've sat in the woods with nobody around, snow falling, phone off... you can feel God in the stillness, for sure. But we're not supposed to stay there.
A beautiful red cardinal can remind you of Jesus' teaching, "if your Heavenly Father cares for these birds... how much more will He care for you?" (paraphrased)... but a cardinal cannot ask you for help when they're worrying. And it will not pray for you when you're worried. A mountain may make you think of the mustard-seed teaching... but it won't be there to hold you when the mountain you're facing in life seems too big for your faith.
Creation is wonderful. Nature is beautiful. But Jesus did not die for the clouds. He did not send the tortoise out to make disciples of all nations. Those things are pointed directly at you. You... them... we... together, are the fullest image of Jesus that we can experience on this Earth... whether it's on a poster or not.
Dusty Wallace is the Worship & Creative Arts Director at Quest Community Church in Westerville, Ohio. Follow him on Twitter @DustyWallaceMUS. www.DustyWallace.org