The first verse of Leviticus 26 echoes the first verses of the Ten Commandments. While these verses speak of “idols” and “carved images”, this is not an objection to the creativity of artists or stone carvers. The core issue is about limiting our understanding of God. The moment we try to “draw God”, or to carve a representation of God, is the moment that we reduce God to the limits of our understanding. God the Unknowable, the Unexpected, the Unexplained, the Wholly Other cannot be captured in visible form. Therefore the commandment is not about carvings – but is rather about limiting our picture of God.
There are also other ways of limiting God. We can limit God through the use of images:
· “God our Father”, while offering a concept of love, also limits God to being male! And God is far more than the limitations of a male.
· Some refer to God as “the Old Man upstairs”: again, God is far more than a benevolent grandfather.
· Some have God pegged as a vengeful tyrant, who will obliterate all who do not follow Jesus. But this image falls short of the God of Grace.
Let us not be guilty of making our God suitable to ourselves – literally making God in our own image. The challenge for today is to be reminded that God is bigger than anything we can imagine.
ThoughtImmortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.
Walter Chalmers Smith
Third Sunday of EasterThe Lord is with us
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.154