March 2 – Iconoclasm

Iconoclasm

Do not make idols or set up carved images, or sacred pillars, or sculptured stones in your land so you may worship them. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 26:1)

Read: Leviticus 25:47-27:13, Mark 10:32-52, Psalm 45:1-17, Proverbs 10:22

Relate: Emperor Leo III overthrew his predecessor to save the Kingdom. Byzantium had been severely mismanaged and was on the brink of collapse. Arabs were at the gates with an army of 150,000 and various governors in Sicily, southern Italy, and Greece had effectively broken off and were going their separate ways. After five years on the brink of extinction, it was clear that Leo had saved the kingdom. Once that was done, Leo took on the even more difficult and important task of “saving” the kingdom.

At the main entrance to the palace in Constantinople stood the Chalke Gate. For at least a hundred years over this gate stood an image, an icon, of Christ. Beginning with this most famous image Leo began systematically removing the icons throughout the city and replacing them with crosses. Constantinople had become literally the most idolatrous city in the world (and possibly in all of history) and Leo was the first emperor to try and put a stop to it.

React: I am an iconoclast. Why? For that I have to go back to Aaron in the desert. Moses had been too long up on the mountain and the people were clamoring for Aaron to do something about it. So he told them to gather their gold, made it into an image, then told the people, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” But we lose it in English. He said, “Elohim(God) Yisra’el(of Israel) alah (who brought) erets (the land) Mitsrayim(Egypt)” Elohim is the second most common name/title for God in the Old Testament and this is the exact phrase has already been used of God 12 times. Aaron wasn’t worshiping the wrong God, he was worshiping the right God the wrong way.

I can’t just worship God however I feel like it. I must be obedient to what He has commanded. To worship Him is to bow down to Him and to serve Him. That means getting my will and ideas out of the way so that He can be glorified. I hear all the time, “Well, to me God is like…” I don’t care. Get away from me with that blasphemy. It doesn’t matter if your name is Michelangelo or Colton Burpo, the only understanding we have of Christ isn’t from a thought an idea, or an image but from the Written and Living Word of God. The world doesn’t need the idolatry of a graven/chiseled/painted/sketched image of God. They need a living image that is you and me living Him out in our lives.

Respond: 

Dear God,
Be ever greater in my eyes. No image could ever do You justice. Even the grandest of my imaginations falls short. You stretched out the galaxies easier than I pull back a curtain. You hold the oceans in the hollow of Your hand and all the power and greatness of all the kingdoms for all time have less impact than the dust on a scale. How then can any image made by hand ever begin to do You justice. Be ever greater in my eyes and through my life.
Amen

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7 thoughts on “March 2 – Iconoclasm

  1. “I can’t just worship God however I feel like it. … Get away from me with that blasphemy … They need a living image that is you and me living Him out in our lives.”

    Just a thought –

    How many of us “living images” practice our “God look”? Photo-shopping the bits we think don’t look good to others: adding a “must be seen to do this” here, or hiding a “mustn’t be seen to do that” there.

    There are a lot of us living idols that are as lifeless inside as any golden idol.

  2. Great post, Beejai. Lent is a wonderful and challenging part of the liturgical year for Catholics. It shows us that since self-denial exists there must be value in it. It impels us to discard that which hinders spiritual growth to make room for the will of Christ. We know from physics that two objects can’t occupy the same space at the same time. It is better to be a slave of the eternal Christ than the temporal world.
    -Alan

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