What Do You Think About Icons?

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I had a very interesting conversation with a good friend based on this week’s blog posting, “Keep On Keepin’ On.” He is a very knowledgeable and outspoken member of the American Orthodox church, and likes the blog, commenting on it relatively regularly. We discussed the fact that God has us each on a different path to The City with Foundations, and we are all exactly where He wants us to be on that journey.

Yesterday, he brought up the subject of icons, and how important they are to his Orthodox church, and how helpful they are to him and to all who use them. As he was talking, a brand new thought exploded in my mind, I shared it with him on the spot, and it was so exciting to me that I wanted to share it with you, my “blog church,” immediately!

Here is the definition of an icon: Icon – “a picture, image, or other representation; a sign or representation that stands for its object by virtue of a resemblance or analogy to it.”

My friend is right. Icons are not only important but absolutely essential as I live the Christian life in the kingdom of God, because we are all icons representing Jesus Christ! Remember how we emphasized the corporate nature of Christianity in previous blog postings, and how Christianity was not an individual sport, to be played alone, but a team game. We must be together, because we are, each one of us, living, breathing images (icons!) of Jesus Christ, and we need that constant reminder of Him and what He is like.

Why do I need pictures or images of saints who lived years ago, when I’ve got real, live saints that are currently very much alive now, loving me, encouraging me, teaching me and disciplining me right now (1 Corinthians 6:1; 14:33)! Paul called the Corinthian church, not known for its righteous living, saints, because they were icons, images of Jesus Christ, just as are we!

We are living, breathing images, not lifeless pictures, each of us sharing our gifts when we meet: “How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification” (1 Corinthians 14:26). When the icons meet together, this is also where we walk in the light together, freely exposing our sins (Yes, icons are not without sin!) to one another, and praying together for each other: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

Obviously, being an icon has nothing to do with being “good,” or “holy,” or “obedient.” It has only to do with little children, trusting their daddy. Oh Lord, open my eyes that I may see what you have done and whom you have made me! Hallelujah!

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  1. B. says:

    This is very disturbing. The second commandment speaks clearly to this and icons are a form of idolatry. We are created in the image of God and as image bearers are commanded to obey even as Christ obeyed. Why would you define your brothers and sisters in Christ as “icons” which many churches use as a form of worship? God alone deserves such worship and I believe you think so as well. This post is confusing in that it seems to agree that icons are useful by way of definition (we are living icons). I understand your point, but knowing how icons are used, causes me to cringe when you place believers under that definition. If God wanted us to be called icons He would have said so. I may have misinterpreted your meaning and am open to being corrected.

    1. Robert Andrews says:

      B, understand your sentiments exactly and would have agreed with you whole-heartedly – until Thursday. That’s what was so revolutionizing about my insight and made me do something I never do – two postings in one week!! The New Testament word for image is the Greek word eikon and Paul alone uses it 11 times in the NT, most to refer to us as “being conformed” to the eikon of Jesus. Paul Himself call us eikons. Hope this helps. Thanks for your comment!

  2. dan pressler says:

    Before the Reformation, literacy was not common. Many could not read. Icons, Christian art, and stained glass were their Sunday school lessons – meant to teach the Bible. My mom’s “flannel-graph” figures of the saints and apostles were also icons in this sense.

  3. Jerry Buccola says:

    Robert, what a refreshing post…

    B. its OK…don’t be disturbed…Robert is correct that the Holy Spirit refers to us as icons (images) of Jesus many times in the NT. Moreover, do you remember?… Gen 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him..”
    B you are in process of being fully restored to the image of God as Adam and Eve were. Also, remember 2 Cor 3:18 “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image, from one degree of glory to another.”

    Also Christians don’t worship images. They honor the saints who have been transformed, behind those images. When we stand and salute the American flag, we are honoring an image, an icon. When a teenager posts a picture of a famous athlete on their bedroom wall, they are posting an image, an icon, to honor that athlete, and to be inspired by that athlete.

    Thanks for your comment B 🙂

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