Los Alamos Church of Christ

2016… Connections

Traditionalist 3




This year we are working on the Nine Historical Temperaments.  Our goal of the 2016 is to discover who we are in order that we can connect to our LORD in worship.  We are hoping to find sweet spots of worship.

So far…

--We have worked through the Intellectual temperament… Connect through knowing our Lord…

--We have done the Caregiver Temperament… Connections come from serving our LORD through serving others.

--Currently we are in the Traditionalist Temperament… The sweet spots are found in symbols.  Crosses; rituals; looking for sweet spots in liturgy.

--Last week, instead of talking about it… we did it.  Even though my score is not very high on the Traditionalist temperament test… I connected in our Easter Service…



Two weeks ago, at the end of my sermon, I shared a thought that exploded my brain…


We are made in the image of God.   An image is a symbol.  The brain exploding thought is… We are symbols of God.  I am a symbol for God in this world.  We represent our God in this world.  The value of the traditional temperament is to recognize the representative nature of our lives. 


This morning I want to pursue this thought.  I need to revert back into my intellectual temperament to get a handle on what being made in the image of God means.   Let’s take a step backward to pick up the image of God thought from Genesis 1 and then move forward towards Christ; the exact image of God and then end with our brain exploding thought of our lives as symbol.  We might even discover that I was only half right.


Let’s begin in the book of beginnings… Genesis.




ESV Genesis 1:24-28 And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds- livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so.  And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.  Then God said, "Let us make man in our image 1, after our likeness. And let them have dominion 1 over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."  So God created man in his own image 2, in the image 3 of God he created him; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion 2 over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." 


--Let us make man in our image and likeness…

--So God created man in his own image…

--In the image of God he created him…

Three times… for the trinity?  It is said we are made in the image of God.  The Hebrew words are... Tzelem Elohim… "Image of God".  Note we are made in the image and likeness of God.  This is not two different things, but Hebrew poetry which says the same thing twice.  In the beginnings of the book of beginnings… humans were made in His Image. 


If all we had in the Bible was Genesis 1, our understanding of Tzelem Elohim would be humans were created to be God's representatives in the world.  Twice in this paragraph it is mentioned that those with the image and likeness of God are to have dominion over all the animals.  Image bearers are to serve everything that has the breath of life.  Humans, in the beginning, were the image of God on earth to be God’s image to God’s world.    We are on earth, his likeness, to rule creation; to be God’s caretakers of the earth; to be over the animals as God’s image on earth. 


POINT ONE… We are God’s symbol on earth of his loving care of creation. 



That’s pretty cool.  I like it.  But let’s keep going.  We have a long way to go.  Let’s move out of the Garden; after the fall, after sin entered the world, to a summary statement at the beginning of Genesis 5. 


ESV Genesis 5:1-3 This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.  Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.  When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.


Wow, this broadens our understanding of likeness and image.  Adam, who was created in the image and likeness of God, even after the sin of the Garden, passed on the image to his son.  The image of God is passed on down.  In the beginning God did tell Adam and Eve to be fruitful and… multiply.  They were to pass on the likeness of God down through the generations.  Even after the Garden of Eden… Adam and Eve’s children were supposed to be the symbol of God for the creation.  They were to be God’s representative to the world. 


POINT TWO… God’s symbol is passed on through the kids. 


The last time likeness and image is used in Genesis is just after the flood. God speaks to Noah.


ESV Genesis 9:6 "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”



To murder a person who images God is like attempting to murder God.  


POINT THREE… There is inherent value in humans because of the image.


David reaffirms these three points many years later in Psalm 8.   


ESV Psalm 8:3-9 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?  Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (Point Two &Three)  You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;(Point One) you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!


In contrast to galaxies, humans are given glory.  Even down through all the kids to David…We are still given honor.  We are given dominion over all the works of YWHW’s hands.  We are precious.  We are unique.  We are made in the image and likeness of YWHW.  I’m feeling pretty special… how about you?  You of all creation are His precious image bearers to the world! 


That is about it in the Old Testament with the usage of Tzelem Elohim.


Let’s move to the New Testament. Let’s move to the one who is the perfect image bearer.  Watch how the writers of the New Testament pick up on Tzelem Elohim.





ESV Colossians 1:15-17 He is the image (icon translates tzelem) of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.



Greek icon is used for Tzelem.

This one who is the image of the invisible God created it all…



ESV Philippians 2:6-7 Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.



Jesus gave up his form of God and took on our likeness… Jesus became the image bearer of God on earth like we are. 



ESV Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.


The son of God, Jesus, who created us in his image, gave up his Godness to bear our image.  We can see Jesus the exact imprint… the clear image of God… who we were supposed to be in the beginning.  Jesus is the clear image of God.  Jesus is the exact symbol of God.  Jesus is the perfect representative of God in the world. 


POINT FOUR… Jesus became one of us to bring the pure image of God back into the world.


Jesus does more than just show us the image.  Jesus brings the process of restoring the image… clarifying the picture… cleaning the mirror… in us.




ESV 2 Corinthians 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. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.


Those who believe in the Son; those who have been born again of the Spirit; those who have been gifted with the Spirit; those who long to bear the pure image of the Father are being transformed into that image one blink at a time. 


What an amazing thought… I bear the image of God.  No matter how tarnished, I still have the image.  But through the Spirit my image is being polished, my reflection is being refined; my likeness is coming into focus. 


POINT FIVE… The Spirit restores the image. 


Until that day when on the restored earth, we are restored to our original image bearing symbol. 


ESV 1 Corinthians 15:49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.


In the new creation we bear His image again.  To be God’s representatives on the new earth.  Full circle we return to the new earth where we like, Adam and Eve, in the beginning will be God’s representative to the new creation.


Well, we have come a long way around the mulberry bush to get back to my original mind blowing thought of being the symbol of God… in this world… you and me… today.  




One of my favorite theologians… N.T. Wright explains it like this… Once when he was a little boy he got sick.  He had to stay in bed.  But he was all alone, in his room, in his bed.  So, his mom set up an angled mirror between his room and the living area in the other part of the house.  Through the angled mirror he could see his mom working and his family doing family things.  But also, through the angled mirror his mom and family could see him.


Bearing the image of God is like an angled mirror.  On this earth we reflect the image of God to creation.  We are the God’s likeness to the world.  We are to be God to others. We bear the Tzelem Elohim from the other side to this side… we are the image of God in our world.  We are God’s symbol.  Our lives are rituals of how God is.  The traditionalist temperament sees the connections of symbols between who God is in heaven with who we are here. 


That is the part I got right two weeks ago…  But it is an angled mirror which reflects both ways.  Here is the other half of being an image…


We reflect our praise back into the heavens… to God.  Being the image of God is to shine our glory and honor back to the creator.  As the recipients of God’s image, we reflect glory and honor back to God when we are his symbol on this earth. 


This means…

--Anytime someone discovers a cure, writes a book, paints a landscape, enjoys a symphony, calculates a sum, or names a pet, he or she is reflecting God’s image of creativity into the world and back in praise to the creator. 

--Whenever someone writes a law, recoils from evil, praises good behavior, or rights a wrong, he is reflecting God’s image of justice amongst us and as his symbol back into the heavens.

--Every time someone gets married, makes a friend, hugs a child, or tends to the marginalized, he is demonstrating the likeness of God as love to the world while at the same time reflecting that love back to the one who is love. 


But this also means…

--When we connect to a symbol of God… a cross… a fish… a stained glass window…a tattoo… we are bouncing our reflection into the throne room as well as speaking to this world. 

--When we sing a song connecting with our hearts to the power of that song we ricocheting off the angled mirror praise to the Father as we connect our hearts to each other. 

--When the words of a prayer are prayed they go to God bouncing off each other on the way. 

--As we use all of our temperaments we find sweet spots of worship changing our world and reflecting to the world above! 


We are the Tzelem Elohim to this world.  We step into this world as a symbol of God bringing God to the world while reflecting this symbol from world back to its creator! 


Let’s try it to see if it works.  As we say the Shema and Temperament liturgy, lets’ be the symbol of God to each other as it goes to God. 




ESV Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”


My temperament is God’s gift to me.

My temperament is my gift to God.

My temperament is my gift to the body.

My temperament is my gift to the world.


Tim Stidham

April 3, 2016

Los Alamos Church of Christ