Christine Rosen, writing in The New Atlantis, stated, “Americans love images. We love the democratizing power of technologies — such as digital cameras, video cameras, Photoshop, and PowerPoint — that give us the capability to make and manipulate images. What we are less eager to consider are the broader cultural effects of a society devoted to the image.”
Images for idol worship have always been about manipulation, attempts to manipulate gods to control our circumstances and to control others around us. Our current image culture is no different. We create images to control our destinies and to control others. Idolatry is about manipulation. But, God will not be manipulated. He will not be used for our personal advancement or the control of other people.
We have become a people controlled by images.
The recent controversies over Facebook and Russian interference through the manipulation of social media is a case in point. Images make a difference. They influence our thinking and our action. We are bombarded constantly on smart phones, tablets, TVs and laptops. Some have linked the recent rise in teen suicides with the surge in social media.
This is why God gave us the second of the Ten Commandments, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” (Exodus 20:4-5).
God wants to free us from the image-makers who seek to control our minds and distort our values.
The image culture invades our churches when we assume that worship requires the assistance of sound systems, amplifiers, video screens, special lighting and special effects, when we create our own Christian pop-culture complete with celebrities. We ought to be reminded that in Jesus’ day authentic worship took place on hillsides, seashores, and in houses where two or three were gathered together in His Name.
The author of creation made us in His own image. When we know Him we are truly free to know ourselves and others as we truly are, created in His image with unlimited potential for love and good works. For this reason God sent His Son, so that we might know the only image that can set us free. “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15).
This is the definition of sin: attempting to live life on our own terms in our own image and becoming addicted to our man-made idols. N.T, Wright put it this way, “Since sin, the consequence of idolatry, is what keeps humans in thrall to the non-gods of the world, dealing with sin has a more profound effect than simply releasing humans to go to heaven. It releases humans from the grip of the idols, so they can worship the living God and be renewed according to his image.”
When we believe in Jesus and place our trust in Him, we are empowered to become like Him. We are set free from the image makers that lead down paths of addiction and depression. “Those whom He foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:29).