Iconoclast: n. 1. a person who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions. 2. a destroyer of images used in religious worship, in particular.

Reality is iconoclastic (C.S. Lewis, Grief Observed).  In this life we work hard to build our worldviews and ideas about reality.  We fortify them with logic and reason, making sure they are consistent.  Just when we think our castle is impenetrable reality swings her hammer and breaks a large hole in it.  You see any picture we make of reality is going to be an icon.  Reality is something objective, outside of us.  Any idea we form of it is always going to be in some aspects subjective because we are limited, finite beings.  This make God is the great iconoclast.  Only God has an absolutely objective view of reality and we are not Him.

In our minds we build icons of God and he more often than not breaks them.  We make our icons with the best of intentions.  Everyone needs something concrete that they can worship.  Neither the smashing nor the creating of icons is inherently evil.  No one can fully understand God except God alone and parents don’t scold their children when they draw stick figure of them.  Rather the parents applaud their children for their pictures and pin them on the fridge.  However, sometimes we cling too tightly to the picture and it turns into an idol of our Father.  That is when God comes to destroy our icon.  He does this, not because he is a sadist, but because our icons fall so short of the real thing.

Much of Christian life seems like one long cycle of constructing icons and having God smash them.  But if we are good children the icons we build become more and more like the real thing over time.  The stunting of our growth comes when we refuse to let our icon be destroyed.  No, it’s mine, you can’t do that. We cling to our crude drawings and rough wood carvings.  The humble Christian says, “If you must destroy it than do it.  It is not You who is weak, it is my idea of You.  That is why it was so easily broken.  I will start again.  Help me to build something more true.”

Thankfully this will not go on forever, like some a continual reincarnation.  When we reach heaven we will see God as he really is and all our icons will pale in comparison to His likeness.


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