God in 3D

Written by Joel on July 27th, 2010

July 18, 2010
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Col 1:15-28


Movie in 3D

I went to my first movie in 3D a few months ago. It was “How to Train Your Dragon.” Watching the movie in 3D was an interesting experience. Things did seem to come out off of the screen at me. It reminded me of a ViewMaster, those little red binoculars that you put a paper disc in and could see the pictures with some depth; it was like that except everything was moving. It is advertized as a way to make the movie-going experience “more real.” But, sometimes I found it distracting, especially for an extra $5 per ticket. When I had to remove my glasses to find some popcorn, the 3D went away – it was all just an illusion. It was really in 3D, just made up to look that way.

The Text

The Apostle Paul presents a Christological hymn for us in the beginning of his letter to the Colossians. Scholars have suggested that the first part of our reading, verses 15-20 represents an early hymn or poem about Christ. [read the 5 verses again here] It speaks primarily of Christ as first among all things, above all thrones, powers, rulers, and authorities. He is the ruler of all things, the creator of all things, and so is above all things. It declares that he has come before all things and that he leads all things.

Today I would like to focus on the first verse: Christ is the image of the invisible God. The image of God. That, in Jesus we meet God face to face. When we want to imagine what God is like we need only look to Christ.


Reference to the image of God is made elsewhere in scripture. The first that comes to mind is in the creation account in which God, when he creates humans, says “Let us make people in our image, according to our likeness…So God created humans in his image, in the image of God he created them.” (Gen 1:26 & 27) What does it mean that we are created in the image of God? Does it mean that God has a body? That we reflect God’s love, compassion, intelligence, free will? Something else?

Yes, in some mystical way we carry the image of God with us through the divine act of creation. But, we remember what happened in the garden and the image was tarnished in Adam’s sin.

The Second Commandment

Later in scripture, after God rescues the Israelites from slavery in Egypt he makes his covenant with them and gives the ten commandments; the second of which was “Thou shalt not make any graven images.” Again, the same word as is in our second reading today. The Israelites took this command seriously, idolatry being one of the greatest sins which could be committed. And so God remained invisible.

Remember a few weeks ago we read that story about Elijah on the mountain. God was not in the earthquake, not in the wind, or the fire, he was in the still quite. Still even when Elijah came as close as any person had ever come at that point to seeing God was confronted with a still nothingness.

Christ is the image of the invisible God.

And now we read in Paul’s letter, in the Christ-hymn in which we are reminded that Christ is the image of the invisible God. Christ makes God known in the world. Christ makes God see-able. When we want to know what God is like we have our answer in Christ. The letter tells us that God is invisible and Christ is visible. How can that be?

Maybe it is like the invisible gorilla.

Maybe it is like the invisible gorilla. It is a psychological experiment to show that people don’t always see what is right in front of their eyes. Could Christ simply be making us aware of a God how has been there all along, and we have just been blind to him?

Maybe it is like an infra-red camera.

Or maybe it is like an infra-red camera which makes the infra-red light visible. Light on the spectrum which we cannot see is translated into light which we can see on a screen. But again this is only a simulation; we never really see infra-red light, just a computer’s rendition of it. We still need a piece of equipment to help us see it.

Christ is the image of the invisible God.

It is not quite like either of these examples, because Christ actually is, in a complete and full way – God in every way. He restores the divine image in creation, he is our new Adam. God is no longer invisible to us, no longer inaccessible, no longer distant. Now, through Christ, the divine image we can see, hear and touch the one true God.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. gail l. says:

    Another good, helpful sermon ..by the way in SECOND COMMANDMENT . second paragraph .. did you mean “still quiet”, not “still quite”…?

    • Joel says:

      Yeah, meant “quiet.” It was a copy and paste from my very rough notes page.

      And….I lost my digital voice recorder! So that’s why the last two sermons aren’t up. I hope I find it soon.

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