An icon is a piece of art created to point us to a greater reality.
In the digital age, myriad icons are everywhere. Most every computer program or app you use is accessed by clicking an icon. (You likely clicked on at least two or three on your way to being able to read this blog.)
Icons aren’t the real thing, they’re just a representation, a pointer, even a reminder or a prompt. The little envelope on your device isn’t your email, but it is the avenue through which you access your email.
When it comes to knowing God, God created a primary icon for us—a pointer, reminder, and prompt to aid us in our relationship with Him.
Do you know what that icon is?
It’s people. Specifically, men and women.
This is what God was speaking to in the beginning when he said, “Let Us make mankind in our image” (Genesis 1:26). He created us to point all of creation to himself.
What an honor!
What’s even more astounding to me is that according to Paul in Ephesians 5, this iconography extends to the sexual relationship between husband and wife.
A man leaves his father and mother to be joined to his wife. Naked, the husband gives his body to his wife and pours out his “seed” or his life into his bride. And as the bride receives her husband, new life may be formed in her, and this life grows.
And all of this an icon pointing us to God himself: Christ left his father (and earthly mother) to be joined to his Bride, the church. Naked on the cross, Christ poured out his life sacrificially for his bride. As his bride receives the gift of his life, new and eternal life is conceived and grows in his bride, even unto eternal life.
If this is difficult to fathom, there are reasons for that:
First, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 5, “this is a great mystery.” This goes deeper than we usually think, and although we can (and should) seek to plum the depths of this mystery, we will never fully grasp it.
And second, this is difficult to fathom because our view of sex, even in the marriage bed of husband and wife, has been corrupted. We’re so used to sex as an icon of human selfishness and feeling-driven “love,” it’s become nearly impossible to believe a holy God would choose the marriage bed as his icon of choice.
This is so sad. Just as a good icon has power to connect us to the real, a corrupted icon has power to point us away from reality, even to change our perception of it. The God-icon we were created to be has been distorted and in many cases even points us away from the God whose image we are created bear.
This is one of the reasons I’m so passionate about the work Regeneration does to help men, women, husbands, wives, dads and moms. As people, we’ve been given such an incredible gift, such incredible dignity. We want to see this restored.
There’s only one place I know to begin: By gazing afresh on Jesus, the exact representation of the invisible God. He is both the perfect icon and He to whom we are created to point. He has given his body, poured out his life that we might open ourselves to him to receive his life and conceive new and holy life within us.
Because we’re not just icons. We’re sons, we’re daughters. We are the one he loves.
As we renew and deepen our intimacy with him, we begin to see icons of God all around us—in men and women, in marriage, in longing, in pregnancy and children, even in sexual and romantic desire.
O Jesus, make us your good icon inside and out.
Question: What happens in you as you consider the idea that your manhood/womanhood is meant to reveal the strength and beauty of God?