Sitting in Church someone said, "Christ came to die for our sins."
My mind flashed with the following, "Christ didn't come to die for our sins. He died to restore our glory."
I sat back. Picked at this thought for a few minutes. Looked at it from one side, then another. Honestly, it felt a little heretical or at least unorthodox. The more I thought about it, though, the more I came to agree with it.
Sin is a huge deal. We're stuck if Christ doesn't provide a solution. Christ did die for our sins. At the same time, sin isn't the point of our story. Sin is an interruption to the original story. A detour that moved humanity away from God's original intent.
Looking back at the creation account in the bible we see that God made man and woman "in his own image". Scholars suggest that Moses, the author of Genesis, was borrowing from the culture of his day. This idea of something "In his own image" was commonly used by kings ruling over vast empires.
These kings, lacking the enormous communicative reach of our technology, had to find some way to remind their subjects in distant lands of their rule. To this end, they'd have the finest artists craft statues of the king. These statues were of the highest quality, adorned with gold and precious stones. They were works of art, images representing the king.
Statues of the king were placed throughout the empire to remind the people of his authority, power, and majesty. They were to be treated with the same reverence as the king himself. To disrespect the image of the king, was an offense against the king and would bring about harsh punishment.
This practice is likely the source of Moses describing the first man and woman as being fashioned, "In the image of God." Yet this is more than a cultural reference. It carries with it a deep theological message. Man and woman made "In the image of God" have purpose, dignity, and majesty. By reflecting aspects of the king, we declare his rule to the world. Unlike statues of stone, we "images" aren't static but demonstrate the kings rule in our words, actions, deeds, our very lives.
But of course, if you read further in Genesis a problem arises. Sin enters the story with a myriad of consequences. The one relevant to our discussion here, is that sin warps, twists, mars the images of God we were intended to be. Our lives no longer accurately portray the King. Its as if someone were to cover Michael Angelo's "David" with graffiti. Sin has defaced and hidden the images of God that we were meant to be.
The statement, "Sin is an interruption to God's original plan" flows out of this reality. We were meant to shine forth as magnificent images of God, but instead are broken and deformed by sin. Christ came not simply to remove the sin, but to restore the image.
So what does this mean for you? Let me suggest three things.
First, you aren't some piece of trash Christ was kind enough to save. You are an image of God. This is what is most true about you. It is woven into what you were created to be.
Second, sin has obscured the image of God in you and I. Christ's death provides a way for this to be set right, not by dressing us up like Jesus but by stripping away the sin that obscured the glorious thing you were designed to be.
Third, you were meant to shine. You were meant to represent the king. You were meant to move with dignity and power. You were meant to be brilliant, spectacular, world changing. You were meant to be all these things because they are a reflection of who God is.
What does this mean to me?
As I work with people, I see the affect of sin. I see the way they've been damaged. How who they were supposed to be has been tarnished and distorted. I walk with them as they heal and repent.
But what a waste to stop there. I long for people to discover the "image" they were meant to be. For people to come to understand the greatness, power, and brilliance that God has placed in them. I long for that to happen not so they can admire themselves but to go out and change the world. As we uncover the unique "Images" we were each created to be, then we can truly serve as salt and light to a world in great need.
Jesus came to restore you to the glory of an image bearer of God. He died for your sin so this could happen. As you become who you were intended to be you will bring Him glory and bring help, healing, and justice to our world.
So maybe, now that Christ has dealt with our sin, we might focus on how we can be magnificent for His glory rather than being overly preoccupied with sin that has already been forgiven.
In a clients initial session I'll invite them to tell me when I'm wrong.
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