Image Bearers – Worship


Divine image bearing doesn’t only refer to human attributes we have that are similar to God’s. It refers to our human vocation, or priesthood, in which we reflect God’s love into the creation. It’s about the image we reflect into the creation around us. It’s like a mirror that is angled, so that it takes sunlight from above and reflects that into the earth. So, our heart is angled towards God’s face, so that it receives God’s likeness and then passes that onto the community that surrounds us. “Made in God’s image” means an ongoing daily reflection of the true God into the world for its wholeness.

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face (image, appearance) of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) The purpose is that we shine this light to renew the world.

Mankind’s calling in the beginning was to reflect God’s image of sabbath care into the creation. This was Adam and Eve’s identity: they were priests, bearers of God’s image. Their identity was found in the image of God, in who God is, and their vocation to pass this on. Certainly, we each have our different part in this, our different giftings, characteristics, and personal distinctions, all parts of God’s fulness that contribute to the whole community.

But our basic identity is we are priests, functioning in our distinctions to reflect God’s character of care for others. Our identity revolves around the one who called us together, not around our own distinction. God’s tabernacle of Jubilee is our centre, our identity. A different aspect of God’s wisdom is reflected through each part of our inclusive community. Things go wrong when we find our identity in our own part, and this comes to the foreground to divide, instead of to serve, and then the vulnerable suffer.

This is where it went wrong in Genesis 3. Mankind decided they didn’t want to reflect God’s image anymore. They wanted to reflect their own image, to boast and dominate according to their own distinction. “Image” was a word in ancient times, in the creation myths and temple terminology of pagan societies, that referred to the divinity. Man wanted to be his own divinity, to construct and reflect his own image into the world around him. So, mankind went about constructing their own identities and images and then stamping these images upon others and upon the whole creation, as far as they could conquer.

This is why “identity politics” today can’t help. Identity politics is about identifying our own separate identity as a group of people and then demanding the rights applicable to that group. It is a politics of division, so the elite can distract us from the bigger picture of their pagan enslavement of humanity. Hitler used identity politics to take power. Identity politics is not about using the distinctions of the group to serve others in wholesomeness.

Instead of finding ourselves in identity politics, we find our true identity in reflecting God’s image and likeness into the creation for her shalom. The problem is thinking that our distinctions are our identity, rather than seeing our true identity as our vocation to serve as God’s image bearers. This vocation informs the way we see our identity, with all our wonderful diversity, to care for others and not to insist on our individualistic lifestyles. When the truth that we are called to reflect God’s image of service is lost, and instead we insist upon our own image and identity for ourselves, social fragmentation is the inevitable outcome.

However, the main purpose of this section of the notes is to look at the image we project in our worship as God’s church and community. The priesthood is a two-way function. It calls for the worship of God first. This is where we see God’s face. This is the only way we can fulfil the other role of the priesthood, to reflect God’s love. Our worship of God goes up, and his image of love comes down through us. We are the temple, the place where God and creation come together.

If idolatry, the worship of self, takes the place of genuine worship of God, then the whole process of the priesthood has been taken down and the creation herself will become completely corrupted. Humanity cannot sustain creation without true worship of the divine life. This priesthood over the creation is our identity and calling and there is no way around it. Either we reflect God’s image into the world for its healing, or our own divided identities into the world for our demise. There is no other choice.

When we come to worship in the church community, Paul’s letters to the Corinthians are a great place to look. The Corinthian believers were called to bring down the powers of the world. “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are.” (1 Corinthians 1:28) The powers that are, are being brought down and transformed by the church, even in our weakness. But instead, the Corinthian church copied the worldly powers and values. Instead of transforming the world, they allowed the world to take away the truth about Christ from their church community.

Paul traces this throughout his two letters. The Corinthian believers sued each other to court, protesting the loss of wealth taken by a brother, they were proud of sexual immorality, they ate without waiting for the poor, they boasted about different dietary and devotional traditions, they argued about male/ female power issues in the church, they exhibited spiritual giftings for the purpose of self-aggrandizement, and they chose ministers of the gospel to form factions. Every power issue possible was contested, from sex to money, to control, to self-glory.

This was the image of the world around Corinth, which had taken hold in the church. Contrast this to Paul’s life, where he called a poor slave his own brother, though Paul was formerly from the highest of the elite of Jerusalem. (Philemon) Paul’s life shows the worship of God. So, let’s look at how we go wrong here. How do we get true image-of-God bearing happening in our church community, so we reflect into the world who the true God is, and not the images we get from the world around us? 

Today, it may start with worship leaders, or those who share the word of God in our meetings. Many times, we are mindful of the “performance image” we show. In today’s world, a lot is made about our image, how we look to the world. This may entail how we dress, the style of our hair, the kind of jewellery we wear, the kind of dance, other mannerisms, or our voice tones. Much of this is about reflecting an image, and these images are not the image of God, but images in the world around, that we pick up and then reflect into our church community. We have a tendency to copy the style of other “ministers.” Someone called this being an echo, rather than a genuine voice that comes from relationship with the Lord. The false prophets of Baal did this, all echoing the same error.

They all prophesied what the people wanted to hear. “All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. ‘Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.’” (1 Kings 22:12) False prophecy comes from the false images we set up in our heart, normally images of covetousness, images of self-power, which deceive us and those who hear us: “When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the Lord will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry.” (Ezekiel 14:4) God gives them what they want: deceiving prophets. That is, when we have idols of ourselves in our heart, we see things around us as a divine conformation of our own desires. This is deception. Whole churches and nations can be taken by deception. We see what we want to see.

“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason, God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12) God allows us our choices in the end. We need to ask God to search and show us our hearts. He will show us the truth, that we can’t see ourselves.

An idol is “an image or representation of God,” which we portray in our humanity. I am not referring here to a graven image man has made, but to ourselves, portraying the divine from our own heart, mannerisms and lifestyle. We are God’s graven image, which he made from clay and breathed his breath into. We are idols of God in the world. This is our human calling. Humans are the idol-image bearers. We are either the idol of God or the idol of Satan. In Genesis 6, it says the sons of God took multiple daughters of men as wives. “Sons of God” means mankind, the ones given the rule, who polluted that rule with their own desires. This gave way for them to reflect Satan into the creation. The book of Enoch spoke about this in parables, personifying the demons in human flesh. But the lesson is mankind became image bearers of Satan, by our own actions in the world. We are the rulers, and we rule by the image we reflect into the world.

Projecting popular images from the world into our church meetings is one of the plaguing sins. It is setting up an image in the church that isn’t the image of God. We do this because these other images are easy for people to identify with, because they come from popular culture. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t relate with the world in our worship. Of course, we are part of this world and “in the world” and should communicate with it. But we are not of the world, and this is the key difference in everything Christ did. (John 17:15-21, 18:36) Christ always reflected the true image of God from heaven. In Ezekiel 8, God took Ezekiel in a vision to the temple of Solomon, where he saw it filled with idols. This represents the idols, that were not literally in that temple, but were in the people’s hearts and ungodly behaviours. God said, “these will drive me from my sanctuary. (Ezekiel 8:6)

 When we take the things of the world around us, we must empty them of their image, and fill them with the true image of Christ. This, again, is like the kenosis. We take away the popular image, meaning the popular way of seeing things that revolves around our self-centeredness, and fill our worship with God’s view, his self-giving love. This means we take care with what we do, not rushing into “worship” reflecting the wrong image. Worship needs reverence: we need to consider what we are doing.

Of course, we are not condemning normal styles of clothing, doing hair as we like it, or jewellery, or normal cultural or personal diversity in how we like to dress or worship, which are all precious in the church, but when these things are done deliberately for the purposes of self-promotion, when we copy others to gain approval or to please a crowd. There are many cultural and charismatic expressions that display God’s variety, and these are all rich blessings in the church, and we are thankful for them all. So we are speaking about the motive and heart, to whether or not it is to serve, to be like Christ. In Christlikeness, we want all spiritual and cultural expressions to be free and full, so we can see God’s fulness.

“(Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15) The firstborn means Christ is the heir of the creation, the head. Like these notes say throughout, the purpose here is for Christ to fill his creation. He is filling it with the image of God. This is the Adamic commission to rule the creation in God’s sabbath image, fulfilled in Christ. This is what our worship is for, to fill creation with God’s image. We must not fill the creation with the image of fallen man, but with the image of Christ that fills our worship through the Holy Spirit.

This is our calling as priests, as God’s children, to be his image bearers in creation. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint (image) of (God’s) nature, and he upholds all things by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3) The cosmos is upheld by the radiance or reflection of the true image of God. This image is the word of his transforming power. Reflecting the image of pagan culture into creation brings it into chaos and destruction. Colossians and Hebrews here are speaking about how God’s image fills and renews creation through the church.

We need to be diligent to love others and progressively become free from the love of self that we see dominate in the world. One of the first things the Holy Spirit did in my heart was to give me a love for the people of his church, not to use the church for myself, and this desire to serve the church has burned in my heart ever since. This is why Paul put the “love chapter” right in the middle of his other two chapters on charismata in the church. (1 Corinthians 13)

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-10)

Memorise this, meditate on it, think over it, pray about it, understand this passage and get it deeply into your heart. This was the most important issue to Paul: the love of Christ being expressed, and not the self-love of the world. It is not restricting expression that we are speaking about here, but the manner of that expression. “You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own emotions (desires).” (2 Corinthians 6:12) The Corinthians alleged Paul was restraining them, but he answered that they were rather restraining themselves, restraining their own fruitfulness by their childishness.

Paul said, “Let all things be done, decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40) First, all things be done, then decently and in order. We are for, we encourage the full expression of the gifts of the Spirit, but these have been very much tainted in our recent times, so that they are mixed in with the motives of man and have polluted the church. When our hearts are renewed in real image-of-God bearing then all the gifts can have their full expression to lift up others and not exalt the vessel being used. Remember, in our flesh, we are just the donkey Jesus rode upon, but some people come riding into the church high on a magnificent horse, which is really just a “show pony,” and then we can’t see Christ. 

Paul spoke about the “super apostles” who dazzled the Corinthians with their “spiritual” performances. God always showed himself to be with Paul, in various kinds of miracles, but Paul’s presence among the people was lowly, fatherly, and not a presence of self-importance. “I do not think I am in the least inferior to those ‘super-apostles.’ I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge.” (2 Corinthians 11:5-6) Paul said those who made a show of themselves wanted to exploit the people. “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) If Satan came as an angel of light in Eden, then false ministers will do the same today, in the church, God’s Garden.

The human weakness is to use our gift to dominate, to stamp our own image upon God’s church. We even use God to do this. Maybe “God” is used more than any other means to dominate others for our own purposes. Many “ministers” have fallen into this ditch. It is something we all have to be aware of. When we are careful not to promote ourselves, but God’s love to others (genuine pastoral care), that isn’t about boasting in our gift or about money, then the full ministry of Jesus can grow and flourish among us, because we fall into less pitfalls. The key is always, whose image and likeness are flowing through us into the church? Is it our own crafted image, or the image of God?

The church belongs to God, and we must tread carefully in his glory, which he will not share with another, because if he did, we would all harm ourselves and each other. (Isaiah 42:8) Touching the ark (the glory) will cause us to bring great harm to our communities, so God intervenes. (2 Samuel 6:6-7) This may be part of what it means when God says, “God is in his temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.” (Habakkuk 2:20) Let all flesh, all ego, be silent before God’s ownership of the church, which he bought with his own blood. In my earliest days in bible college, we were told as men about our three weaknesses: “The Three Gs.” “Girls, gold and glory.” Sexual immorality, fame and the love of money. Don’t touch them, to take for yourself. They corrupt the priesthood.

Many ministers have made the church about their own ministry, but the scripture says our role is to build up others for ministry. The trend today is to build a personal presence in the church, to make the people dependent upon our “special anointing,” so we can continue to collect what we want from them. These church members remain babies. When Jesus brought Lazarus to life, he said to his disciples, “Free him and let him go.” (John 11:44) “Teach and equip him so he can stand.” He didn’t say, “Tie him up in doctrines of reliance upon your special ministry, make him dependant on yourself, so he always gives you what you need.”

This is what Peter said, about making merchandise of God’s people: “In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” (2 Peter 2:3) There is a naivety in people that others exploit with all kinds of false stories, which by the sleight of hand are made to look real. Paul called it cunning craftiness. (Ephesians 4:14) It is everywhere, even in Paul’s churches, and we shouldn’t think it is a strange thing for this to be in the church today. People come to where they hope to have opportunity for themselves.

Our task is to equip the church to do the ministry, not to become the only minister ourselves: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” (Ephesians 4:11-12) We equip others to build up the church through each one’s ministry. “From him (Christ) the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:16) We help others become mature, so the work of God can build itself up and spread. The church can’t grow into maturity unless every member is doing their ministry. This is how you know true ministers: they support others financially and not themselves. Paul won the church in the end because he wouldn’t take their money but was interested in their own growth. (2 Corinthians 11:5-11)

I remember one lady who refused to let others know of her “secret pastry recipe” and it died with her. Have no secret in ministry, but share all God gives you with others. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2) Don’t be a hidden person, but be open and transparent, show yourself to others, even your weaknesses, so they know the power of God and not the boasting of men. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) Don’t think they will pull you down, but develop true relationships with trustworthy people, and God will defend the whole church and bring about his likeness in our lives.

 We are speaking here about what at times is a fine line, but also a clear and important distinction. When God’s blessings flow in the church, then this is when we are most tempted by our love for ourselves. So, this is when we must be most resolute, in drawing the congregation to God only, and not to ourselves, for our own promotion. Our peers may tell us that if we don’t reflect this or that human or popular ministry image or style, we will not attract people in this world, we will not succeed: but the outcome then is always that we fail in our priesthood as God’s image-bearers. “Image” here means a popular or commercialised human image that the crowd recognizes and responds to, not the image of God we see in Christ. This human image will build the church’s size, but not with real worshippers. People only truly worship as they see God in Christ. Only God’s Spirit can show Christ to us, and we must not stand in the Spirit’s way.

The question is, what image, or whose image and likeness are we bearing? Whose image is written on our lives? “And (Jesus) asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” (Matthew 22:20) The image inscribed upon our lives shows who owns us, Christ or the world.

So, let’s pick this up in the Old Testament, with the stories of Saul and David. Here, we see two very different kinds of leadership. Saul was commanded not to take any of the spoil of the Amalekites but give it all to the Lord. But he kept the best sheep and then when Samuel approached him, Saul said it was because of the people: they wanted to use the best sheep as an offering to God, which they would also eat. (1 Samuel 15:15) This is where we have the famous phrases from Samuel; “To obey is better than sacrifice,” and “Disobedience is as the sin of witchcraft.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23) What was it about Saul’s leadership? Saul was mindful of how he appeared to the people. He thought his leadership depended upon the people’s favour. He was looking at the people.

We know that David exemplified worship. He loved worship. When he brought the ark to the tabernacle in Jerusalem, he danced before the ark in his underclothes. He took off his kingly outer clothing and danced “naked,” a bit like Christ in his kenosis. His wife scolded him for embarrassing himself in front of the people. (2 Samuel 6:14-16) But David wasn’t concerned about the people’s opinion. He was only concerned about the Lord. It was the Lord he wanted to please. It was the Lord he loved. David was worshipping publicly, as though he was on his own in his prayer closet. He was only looking to the Lord and not to the people. Despite David’s many sins, this is what it means that his heart was after the heart of God.

When we take off our “outer garments” (our decorations and dignity) before the people, they may see many social faults in us, but God looks on the heart. This is what we learn through David, and his brother whom the Lord rejected, though he was popular with man. God looks on the heart, not on the outer performance we make in public. He certainly does not look at our “virtue signalling.” “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7) Thank God for this. See how God rejects the things we hold as popular and important in our meetings. Statements like this in the true prophet Samuel form some of the greatest lessons about God that our societies can learn. Don’t follow the one in the church who is popular with man, but the one who reflects Christ.

The difference between Saul and David shows us what worship means in our church communities. They show us what priesthood means, to reflect God and not what the people want. We need to know this crucial distinction if we are serving in the church. When we stand to worship in the church, are we mindful of the people, or is our heart only after God’s face? Is it the faces of the people we look at, or the face of God? If we look at the faces of the people, we will adopt their image to please them. If we are looking at the face of God, we will reflect his image into the church community. Thinking about what others think of us is a trap, that leads us into many errors. Worshippers must fear God (only regard what he thinks) and learn to trust in him with all their hearts. (Proverbs 3:5)

The church community is the place where our ego and self-centred images must stop, and God’s image must be given full access, full flow, like through a river. God is the only one worthy of worship, having his image fill the church. “I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Worship is kenosis: emptying ourselves, to be filled only with him. It is now God’s life we reflect, not our own image and likeness. When we come to fellowship, we don’t want to see someone’s ego. We want to see God. Sometimes we can’t see God, because of the human images in the way, taking up the space. This then stops being a church community and becomes an entertainment centre. The reverence for God has gone. The temple belongs to God and to his image, not to us and to our images. He is the divine, we are his image bearers.

It can be the same with how men and women dress generally in the church gatherings. Sometimes, it’s clearly about how we want to appear before people. Then we don’t come to fellowship to appear before God, but before people, and this can be what is on our minds. This then is a backslidden church. A church community like this is going to have real problems in transforming their nations, when it is the nation’s values that the church is most mindful about. We can only be a transforming priesthood as our gaze is towards God’s face and not towards the people’s faces. If our nations are to be saved and transformed, from all their horrors and destructions, then the church community must reflect the true image of God into her worship and daily lives.

When we worship while being mindful of images of our egos, we forget the poor. The poor and other wounded people don’t measure up to the images of egos we place at the centre of our “worship.” When we worship the true God and see his face, then we see him in the cross of Christ and in his humility and this turns us to humility and to remember those in need around us. Our focus then turns to the weakest among us, to lift them up. An army can only march as fast as its slowest soldier. “On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” (1 Corinthians 12:22)

A church that has become proud in her worldly acceptable images has lost the image of God and its worship is vain. We become mindful of how we can advance our own image, and this means corruption in doctrine, sometimes stealing, to get the things we feel are so important for that image of success. When we promote these human images, we are promoting covetousness and weaker people in the church will think no one will recognize them unless they can get the items that enhance their image. This “worship” has become entirely skewed. It is directing people towards man and not towards God. Commercial advertising promotes this covetousness and corruption in the world, and our personal advertising in the church does the same.

 “Saul” can easily get the congregation to respond to him, to make a noise, to become “alive,” and that may look like success, but it’s a response to man and not really to God. When we come to worship, we look at God, not at the people. And when we respond to worship in the congregation, we respond to God and not to the person leading the worship. We come to worship to look to God, so then we can see his face, and then we can serve each other in love and humility and don’t tread over others in our self-importance. This is how our priesthood in the world is accomplished. We need “Davids” leading worship in the church, not “Sauls.” David cared for the weak and broken people and that’s why so many joined his ranks, because Saul didn’t care for others. (1 Chronicles 12:22) Look to God for your approval, and then look to people to care for them and serve.

This is the worship that Paul was encouraging in the Corinthian church. He wanted them to continue in the simplicity of Christ, so they can learn of his values and thereby take down the false values of the world around them, destroy the powers of self in the wider community and replace them with the image of God. (2 Corinthians 11:3) This is the result of true worship. We are called to be strong, not to buckle to the images around us, but to transform them - not to be transformed by the images of the world but to transform them by the image of God. Copying the images of the world isn’t strength, it is weakness. Copying God in the fallen world and lifting up the weak around us is real strength. We all learn by imitation, but it is God we must imitate. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

In our cultures we see the “warrior mentality.” It’s the strong man, the one who takes over, takes control and wins the day. This image is often portrayed in the church, as a kind of worship style that the people like, that makes them positive and happy about victory. Then this “atmosphere of victory” in the meeting is falsely taken to be God’s presence or anointing. But this isn’t true anointing, nor is it true victory. The victory of Christ doesn’t come this way. It comes by the principles of the gospel, by God’s care and healing of our community, as our hearts turn towards the lowly, not the proud and strong.

The “warrior mentality” is a deception, and normally comes from or results in cultural pride.  This means gentler cultures get pushed to the background in our worship community, and this results in a cultural dominance and an injustice rising in our fellowship, the way we saw it happen in Paul’s churches. Our cultures must be equally accepted and given equal opportunity, love and expression. Those of stronger cultural expression must be mindful of this, and instead of celebrating their “victory,” emulate Christ giving up such advantages to serve others. The true image of God in our worship is this care towards the weaker ones among us. God’s image exists in all our cultures and therefore we need to avoid the warrior image of self, dominating, pretending we are being spiritual. Spirituality is thinking of others, not just of our own gift and expression in the church. (1 Corinthians 14:30)

Christ is the true warrior, and this is why Paul said he is not ashamed of the cross, for this is the true power of God. Let’s worship as Christians, as Christ followers. We are not worshipping a God who makes us strong over others and over our enemies, but a God who calls us to wash their feet. This is true strength, especially when those who wish to divide us, claim we shouldn’t love our enemies. This is being a true warrior against Satan, hatred and darkness. This is “swimming against the stream.” This is worth shouting about and making a joyful noise about in worship. This will give us truly new hearts and new nations.

The passages from the scripture we have looked at in this section of the notes show us our choice. It’s the deception of the idols in the human heart, which the “super apostles” chose, or the true worship from the heart that God desires and calls for in our churches and nations. It’s a simple choice, and one we need to be mindful of always in the church.

Paul’s aim in speaking about faith was to work with the Spirit in making a new community in Christ’s image, in which God’s likeness is reflected through us into the nations. This is why he spoke about us receiving each other, and about the simplicity of Christ and his humility. This is how our Adamic image-of-God bearing in the nations takes place and how the promises to Israel about new creation begin to come to pass. God’s image, truly reflected in his temple, the church, is the hope of our hearts and nations. Paul’s interest was in building the one table of the Lord, which is not about how we look, but about serving others. This is the righteousness of faith, the justice of faithfulness. If we are reflecting the image of the world, we don’t have God’s faithfulness, and so God calls us to faithfulness through true worship, through which we begin to see and to live in the values of his righteous love.

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