Every child wants to know, and many have the courage to ask, “What does God look like?”
The adult in all of us wants to quickly answer in a theologically correct way saying, “God cannot be pictured. An image is idolatrous because no one image can ever be complete.”
Still, the child in all of us wants to know, “What does God look like?”
When I was in high school, my art teacher shocked my juvenile prejudices when he showed me a picture of a mural he painted for his church. The scene included a depiction of Jesus.
His Jesus had ebony black skin and a wiry afro. This was no Jesus like I had ever seen. Yet, it was very much Jesus to my art teacher and his church.
Some see God as a triumphant king or a valiant warrior. Others see God as an ethereal mystery, elusive and distant.
There are those that see God as a manifestation of Western values, while others picture God only in the southern hemisphere.
What does God look like to you?
I would suggest that we look in the mirror. In Genesis 1:27 are the words: “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
God is etched in our faces – young and old, shaded in a variety of pigments, reflected in our wholeness and brokenness.
What is idolatrous is when we attempt to contain God in a singular or exclusive image. That is why church needs to be a community of diversity.
In our differences, we reflect a better picture of who God is in our community and in our world. God is in the face of the abled, the disabled, the connected, the disconnected, the minority and the majority.
Your face is part of the larger family of God too because we all reflect the beautiful image of God. We see God at work all over this world and part of our mission is to join with God in that holy enterprise.
There are times that the work of God takes us right here on the corner of the familiar in worship and celebration on a Sunday morning.
The church is a place where we study the Bible and seek to learn more about how to live faithfully in a complex world.
But we also come to support and encourage one another as well as to just simply play and enjoy life together.
But God is also at work all over the world and so we go to serve and work and listen and dwell with our neighbors.
Whether providing support to school children in Honduras or bagging groceries for the food pantry or simply being attentive to a co-worker’s needs, we want to discover how the Spirit of God is at work next door and around the world.
It is a beautiful thought, isn’t it? God’s wonderful, diverse image united with others by a common devotion to follow and see Jesus wherever God is at work.
Whatever you think the face of God might look like; I assure you that your face is welcome as well. After all, you reflect God’s image too.
Greg DeLoach is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia. A version of this article first appeared on his blog, Pilgrim’s Walk, and is used with permission. You can follow him on Twitter @GregDeLoach.
Interim Dean at McAfee School of Theology of Mercer University and Director of Development at McAfee School of Theology and College of Professional Advancement.