The God With Us Podcast

Do I Belong Here? on Being God's Idol (Foundational Ep. 3)

October 28, 2019 Geoff Holsclaw
The God With Us Podcast
Do I Belong Here? on Being God's Idol (Foundational Ep. 3)
Chapters
The God With Us Podcast
Do I Belong Here? on Being God's Idol (Foundational Ep. 3)
Oct 28, 2019
Geoff Holsclaw

Please join the God With Us Podcast Community (on Slack), where you'll get updates, resources, and be able to continue the conversation, and even help us plan future episodes.

In this third foundational episode, talk about the first half of what it means that humanity is created in God's "image", and what it means for understanding God as "God with us."

In fact it is better to think that being God's images is better understood as being God's IDOLS, placed within the temple of creation, to represent God's presence and to dwell within God's presence forever.

Then we talk about a better way to read the Book of Exodus, not just as a deliverance story (from slavery), but a dwelling story (creation of a new house of God).  And all this points toward Jesus, the "Word become flesh, and tabernacling among us" (John 1:14).

We also talk about how our two black cats help us understand whether we truly belong in the presence of God.

For more on the foundation of joy, see the first couple of chapters (free) from Does God Really Like Me?

Show Notes Transcript

Please join the God With Us Podcast Community (on Slack), where you'll get updates, resources, and be able to continue the conversation, and even help us plan future episodes.

In this third foundational episode, talk about the first half of what it means that humanity is created in God's "image", and what it means for understanding God as "God with us."

In fact it is better to think that being God's images is better understood as being God's IDOLS, placed within the temple of creation, to represent God's presence and to dwell within God's presence forever.

Then we talk about a better way to read the Book of Exodus, not just as a deliverance story (from slavery), but a dwelling story (creation of a new house of God).  And all this points toward Jesus, the "Word become flesh, and tabernacling among us" (John 1:14).

We also talk about how our two black cats help us understand whether we truly belong in the presence of God.

For more on the foundation of joy, see the first couple of chapters (free) from Does God Really Like Me?

Cyd:

This is Cyd and Geoff Holsclaw and welcome to the God with us podcast where we explore the intersection of God's presence and purpose in everyday life. If you have trouble imagining how you can connect with God in your ordinary in moments , then please join the conversation. We're glad to have you today. Yeah, thank you. Today we're going to be talking about in this episode one half of what we believe humanity being made in God's image is a , in the next episode, we're going to be talking about the second half, but today we're going to be talking about the kind of foundational question of do I belong here? Like do I belong here? The last couple episodes of our four first four foundational episodes is we're focused on God with us as the foundational kind of purpose for this whole podcast. And then we connected that with that idea of joy, of God's joy in us and our response of joy in God and how all of creation is kind of this house or this place of joy that God wanted to set up. And he put humans in this house of joy as his images. But sometimes we have all sorts of ideas about what that could possibly mean. And I think our two wonderful black cats help us tell that story a little bit over to you, Cyd. Tell us about our cats. Yeah. So several years ago I was trying to journal and pray in the morning and we have these two black cats. They're brother and sister, their names are Johnny and June cause they're all dressed in black, like Johnny Cash and June Carter cash. We didn't name them but they're fun names.

Geoff:

Two musicians did name them and then we inherited them later.

Cyd:

So one morning I was sitting there at gr journaling and trying to focus and pray and we have the girl, the sister cat June, she has some really weird habits because she, first of all, she will only come out when the house is totally quiet and nobody is moving. And so I was doing devotions, it was quiet, there was nobody moving. I was just sitting and she comes and she approaches and then she me Aus and she kind of cries a little bit and then she comes a little closer and she does it again. And then as soon as you reach out your hand to touch her or to pet her, she scatters. She runs away again. She's very skiddish and so you got to wait awhile and then she'll come out again and then she'll come and approach really timidly again and she'll cry and she'll me out. And then as soon as you start to stretch your hand toward her, she runs away again. So the only way that you can actually get her to come and be near you is to not move at all. And then eventually she might come and sort of like brush up against you and then at that point you can pet her and , and you know, say hello. You almost have to grab her. You almost have to collaborate . Yeah, it's fine to be petted. Yeah. I say she sensory integration issues because she likes pressure. But anyway, so she's, she's real timid. And then the other cat that we have, Johnny, is completely the opposite. He will jump on your lap at the moment you sit down. As soon as you sit down, he's jumping in . He's like, they're saying, I belong with you. I'm supposed to be here too. Or when we sit down, we have a bench at our kitchen table and when we sit down at the bench, at the kitchen table, he'll jump up on the bench between people as if he belongs at the dinner table as well. So the day that I was thinking about this, it was, it was becoming clear to me that, you know, I think sometimes I approach God like June, I'm in that sense of, do you want me? I'm not really sure. What do you think? Do I belong here? Do you, I mean, it's not so much anymore, but at that season of my life, especially, I think I was, I was, God was speaking to me through our cat saying to me, this is sometimes how you approach me. Whereas God was inviting me to approach him more like Johnny, which is like plopping in God's lap saying, I know I belong. So that helped us to think more about this thing that we were talking about on the last episode about belonging in God's presence and being joyful in God's presence because God is always glad to be with us. So that's part of what we were talking about with the image of God is belonging in God's presence.

Geoff:

Right? And so we kind of want to twist everybody's mind a little bit. And instead of using the word image created in God's image and created in God's image, we could say we are created as gods idol . We are created as gods idol . And we look at Genesis too . We and when you compare it with other Egyptian or Babylonian kind of stories about how pagan priests would create the idols that then they'd put into the temple of the gods, we find a lot of strange residences, not because I think they're pulling from those sources, but in one sense, because the story we get in Genesis is the true story of humanity and the creation of a false idols is kind of the lie. But there's these interesting parallels which I want to point out. So the first one is that we're told that God reaches down and forms Adam out of the dust, out of the clay. He grabs, you know, a chunk of material and crafts it into a certain form. And this is the first thing that pagan priests would do when they were making the idols, is they'd find wood or clay or something and they'd form it into a certain way. Then the second thing that we read in scripture is that God then breathed the breath of life into Adam, into his nostrils, and he became a living being. And that also parallels pagan the pagan process of creating idols because priest , after they had formed it, would then breathe in almost kissing the lips of the idle and breathe into the idle . And this is called the process of animating or bringing to life the idol so that it transitioned from just being this dead thing. And now it's this living idle in this representation. And then the last thing that we hear is that God forms Adam. God breathes life into him and then he places him into the garden. And we don't have too much time to talk all about the imagery in the garden, but it, it matches the image imagery of the temple in Jerusalem that there's precious metals and that there's trees and there's all these different kinds of things. And we're supposed to think in Genesis two when reading the story of the garden of Eden, that it's supposed to be this temple, like a garden. And so God forms Adam breathes into his lips and he places him in the garden, which is the same way that a pagan priest would form an idol , breathe into it. And then place it into the temple. And so what is this trying to tell us about who humanity is? Well, the first thing that I think it should tell us is sometimes when we think of image we think of screens, we think of our phones, or maybe we think of a movie or a television or at least in a reflection or , or reflection in the mirror, which is like something that's distant and kind of far away. And then there's this reflection of this image that then comes to us, or the idea of a telescope gathering, the light, reflecting off the mirrors to amplify it. And then you kind of see something that's really far away. But this idea that we're made as gods idol means where it really emphasizes the touchable, tangible nature of humanity and that God really wanted his image bearers to focus on being tangible and touchable. And so humanity in one sense,

Cyd:

I think that not just tangible and touchable because something made out of wood or carved out of gold is also tangible point . The idea of humanity, humanity moves, humanity breeds humanity, dances, humanity speaks. There's a whole different quality to the idol that God made, which would be unlike any other idol that any ancient person had ever witnessed or experienced. It's not dead. It's not lifeless. It's an idol that is moving, breathing and interacting with other idols. It's, I mean, it's, it's totally different from anything else that we see in the ancient.

Geoff:

Where idle , eh , certainly in Isaiah chapter 40 in chapter 43 and others, it , there's this huge polemic about the dead idols, the life of idols that can't even move themselves. And they need the servants, the humans, to move them around and to feed them or pretend to feed them and all of these things. So there's this idea that these idols are fake because they're dead. They're not alive. And yet in one sense the other half of that truth is, is that's because God made living idols already for himself.

Cyd:

Right? So then when we go to the 10 commandments and we say, when God says, thou shalt have no other gods before me and shall not make any graven images. Well it makes good sense that God would say that because he doesn't need any graven images to represent his presence because he's already got images. He's already got idols, he's already got people who are his living idols. And so to carve an idol to represent his presence is to profane his presence. It's, it's, it's taking something dead and replacing the living, moving, breathing, worshiping, dancing, singing, speaking, idle , and saying this dead thing is somehow representative of God's presence. And so I remember when we first had that conversation when you were first talking about this, and I was like, what? That makes so much sense because it would, Oh , it was always, you know, I always thought that the, the command to not have idols was the idea of not worshiping anything other than the living God, which it is.

Geoff:

Well or that God is ineffable in invisible and cannot be represented by any created thing because they're abstract. Yeah. In a sense, he's a spirit, he's abstract, so he can't be represented by any physical thing, which is true. So those are theological truths. And we linked that to the prohibition to making idols to those things. But the other half is, well God did. He gave us something to represent himself in the world and human beings. Right. And that's what was so

Cyd:

Mind blowing to me. And then as I started reading scripture, you know when you, whenever whenever you learn something new about God than the way that we reread scripture changes again. And so I remember soon after having that conversation I was reading in second Samuel chapter six, just the story of David bringing the Ark back into Jerusalem and the idea of, you know, David is singing and rejoicing and dancing in front of the arc and just thinking again of like the Ark itself is a representation of God's presence. But David is also the image of God, the idol of God, dancing before the Ark. And so you have this sort of juxtaposition of like the , the arc of the covenant, which was very much the symbol for God's presence because it was in the tabernacle, it was in the temple, it was, you know, the, the angels , the angels are seated on the cover and, and God's presence filled the temple with the cloud. And at the same time you have this dancing David in front of the idol where , so you have this living, breathing, moving idol that is side by side in front of the arc of the covenant. And so you have this dual sense of God's presence in the living, idle and the arc of the covenant together. And then the more I was reading the old Testament and just reading all the different places about the arc and then about God's prohibitions against idols , and almost every time he wagged , I don't, I mean, I'm not going to say like, okay , all it feels like every time he says something against or his speaks through one of his prophets like Isaiah or Jeremiah or Ezekiel, and like speaking against idolatry, it seems like right on the heels of that, or right before that, there is a reminder of some sense of God's presence with his people. That his people are the idol ,

Geoff:

Right? And it's all connected to God's presence, which is what we want to connect it to today is that being made as gods idol means we're made to dwell in God's presence. We're placed within the area that God dwells, and certainly now after sin and and the fall and all these types of things, which we can talk about in later episodes. But that has been lost or broken. And now it's much more complicated. But we just want to hold onto the foundational truth that humanity was made for God's presence. And while there's hindrances and difficulties now it's not because God is a grumpy old man who doesn't want you know, the grandkids visiting him. He doesn't have this pristine house and he doesn't want you to touch anything. But rather God has created the world to live with his children and God delights to have his children and actually made it so that we would dwell with him.

Cyd:

Right. And so going back to the cats we are made to be like Johnny to assume we belong to no , that actually the whole part, the whole purpose for our creation is to belong in the presence of God, to be the tangible living, breathing image of God that lets the whole world know that God is present in this place. And that's where, you know, you, we've talked before about in the ancient temples it wasn't believed that the God dwelled in the temple until the idol had been installed in the temple. Right? So the temple is built and everybody knows that it's going to be the temple to Artemis or whatever God it's going to be, but it doesn't actually actually the presence of the God is not there until the idol has been created, animated and installed into the temple. Right. And so looking at the creation of Adam and Eve, it's like the whole intended purpose behind the creation of the garden was that that would be the place where God would dwell with his people. Not the whole intended purpose at the beginning, the half, the first half.

Geoff:

So it will be the second half, but we just want to emphasize half of the half. Right . I am lost in your math now. What do you mean by half of that half ? That's a quarter.

Cyd:

Mm . Okay. All right . No, you're right. You're right. Okay, nevermind. I'm getting [inaudible]

Geoff:

Half of a half of it . A quarter venting halves . There we go. So the two, the two halves that we'll be talking about, the one today is that we belong in the presence of God. The one we'll be talking about in the next episode is that we were made to extend God's rule or rain or his blessing is what we're going to talk about. So there's presence, but then there's also purposes. And so when we talk about this podcast being the, with us podcasts is one of the foundational realities is it's also a us with God podcast is that God wants us to be with him no matter what. And certainly a , there was the fall, but God started working through this as a brief old Testament survey. But God started working through Israel, called Abraham, raised up Moses to deliver the people from Egypt. Israel was formed in one of the foundational things that you alluded to already, the Ark of the covenant, but also the tabernacle. It was this place of God's presence. God said, I'm now going to make my presence dwell amongst the people of Israel. So, although the presence of God was lost in the fall to Adam and Eve and all of humanity, now in the old Testament, God gives his presence through the gift of the temple or the tabernacle, and then later it becomes the temple. Both of them filled with the glory of God. Now there's other same glory that we saw delivering the people from Egypt, right? With the cloud of fire and the pillar and that and the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud that was going before the people. And is God's presence leading his people out of captivity, out of bondage, right? God, it's all about God's presence. And and then so that they could be together. Exactly. Yes . So sometimes we read the story of the Exodus. We only read half of it because it's the most interesting half. It's the kind of the 10 commandments, a version that we get, you know, from Hollywood and these things of you get the story of Moses as an infant. Then he grows up and then he's in the wilderness and then he goes back and he delivers the people. And there's the plagues. And there's all this drama. Then they leave and then there's other things, and then the red sea, and then it's like, and then the story is over because it's no longer a good movie, but the second half thing , the whole point is, I think it's missing the whole point because the whole second half of the book, it's really boring because it's like blueprint designed for this thing called the tabernacle as well as the laws that God gives, and it sounds really boring just talking about building a house and then the rules for living in the house, but in one sense, that's the whole point. God delivered his people from slavery so that he could dwell with them so that his presence would be offered at least to a portion of humanity at that time and then, and so they could be a blessing to all nations. But we'll talk about that next. Yes, we'll talk about that as a second half, not the half of the half for just the second half of the image of God, but then moving onto Jesus. Is he in John one four, we're told that the word became flesh that took on a body of tangible body which we were talking about call and he dwelt amongst us or tabernacled amongst us , us . So Jesus himself, we're told in John one 14 that he becomes the new mobile temple, the place of God's presence. And he does his ministry and invites people into God's presence through his very life. And of course that's given to the church as the body of Christ to do, but, and he's the perfect idle is the perfect idle . The image never says idol or the, the new Testament never says idol , but it definitely says image. But I definitely think he, the fact that he took on flesh and was God's dwelling place should Kias into this idea that the Genesis chapter two portion of being made in God's image, I think is coming true. And so as we talk about God with us, we want to be more like, which kind of cat Johnny and what kind of cat was Johnny. This is just a review. We're doing the teacherly review thing.

Cyd:

Johnny is the one who believes that he belongs and we'll jump into your lap without a moment's hesitation. And June is the one who was always skiddish always wondering, always afraid of your presence. Although she wants to be in your presence, she's always kind of afraid of your presence and Johnny is more like, eh, here I come.

Geoff:

So as we think of life in Christ, a saved and filled by the Holy spirit, can we come into a place where we are more like Johnny , where we can just in confidence and boldness as Hebrew says, boldly approach the throne of grace because we belong in God's presence. If we move into this place more and more in our lives.

Cyd:

Well and then also, I mean when you think about the fact that everywhere you go, you are the representation of God's presence, like your leave . Living, breathing self is

Speaker 3:

Okay

Cyd:

Is the image of God. You are bearing God's image everywhere you go, which then makes you think about all the things that you're doing and are you imaging God for who he actually is or are you giving a portrayal of God? That is actually not true to who he is. So that's another thing to think about as the , you know, as you think about yourself as an idol , I'm one who bears the presence of God and who images the presence of God to the world. Does that shift anything about your significance and about how you match ?

Geoff:

So it's not just that we belong in God's presence, but that we bring God's presence wherever we go. It's a two way street as , wow , I love this stuff.

Speaker 3:

[Inaudible]

Geoff:

So what does, as a concluding question, you wanted to ask kind of a reflection question as people are finishing a workout or driving commuting or doing the dishes, you wanted to end with a reflection question.

Cyd:

Yeah. Just sort of asking the question of what is it that might be keeping you from believing that you belong in God's presence? What is it that makes you feel skittish or unsure or maybe afraid of the presence of God like our , like our cat June. What is it that makes you wonder about belonging in God's presence?

Speaker 3:

[Inaudible]

Geoff:

Amen . I was just going to let that silence linger . Just people could think, you know, maybe God brought something up a to mind by the spirit to those who are listening. Thank you so much for listening. You can subscribe on Spotify, on iTunes, on any kind of Google R a Android devices. Please do subscribe and send us reviews. If you can also we're going to be launching a Slack channel and so there'll be information about how to get an invitation for that so that you can interact with this episode and future episodes. So check out our website and you can find both of us on Facebook. So we're easy to find Jeff with a G, it's G, E O, F, F Holsclaw and Sid , which is C, Y, D. Holsclaw. You can find this on Facebook pretty easily. So please join the conversation and let us know how being made in as God's idol hits you and how that stirs up your theological brain pot or whatever. You're allowed to go . Ideas . Well , you stir up a pot. And then my brain, I dunno , I came out weird, but there you go. Thanks for listening and we'll talk to you about the other half of the image of God in our next step . So .