He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)
Jesus is the image of of the invisible God. When we could not come to God, he came to us. When we could see God, the man Jesus – in whom all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell – appeared. If you want to know how much God hates sin, look at the cross. If you want to know how much God loves you… look at the cross.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus did more than issue commandments. He demonstrated how to live those out. He gave instructions about going the extra mile and living by the Golden Rule, but he also showed his followers what that looks like on a daily basis. He preached to and taught the multitudes, and further instructed a small group of Apostles. Jesus did not rule like a monarch on the throne or oversee workers like a supervisor in a mill; he led by example. And his expectation is that we learn from and imitate that example. Paul writes in Philippians 2:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. -Phil 2:5-7
We are to imitate Christ. We are made in the image and likeness of God, and taking the form of a man God personally showed us how to do that right. God’s image and name have been used and abused throughout history, but all we have to do to understand what God is really like is look to Jesus. If you want to know what God is like, listen to Jesus. And although we will never do so perfectly, we are instructed to look, sound and act like that as well. To be the salt of earth we must make a change in the world that cannot go unnoticed. Jesus exhorted his followers to be the light of the world. The Psalmist wrote that God’s Word was a lamp to his feet and a light to his path. Jesus challenged his followers – us – to be that light. The first followers to be called Christians were the believers at Antioch, a title not chosen by them selves but by others who noticed they sounded and acted like Christ.
Jesus is the Son of God; Jesus is God. And while again we can never imitate him perfectly, we as Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit. The good news is that he can do all things through us if we are merely willing vessels. You and I are made in God’s image – and so are the millions (billions?) of people that need to hear the Gospel. The little old lady that lives across the street; the angry boss that rides you at work; the kids that play street ball in front of your house; villagers in developing nations; Jews, Muslims, atheists and “good people” are all in need of the Gospel. Your server at dinner tonight and children in rural China have one thing in common; they are made in God’s image. And the same Jesus that took the form of a humble servant for you, he loves them too. Be the salt, be the light. We possess a great treasure in jars of clay. Share that. We as Christians have been entrusted with the Gospel message. It was freely given to us, and our responsibility is to freely give.