If Cows Had Gods

If cows had gods, their gods would look like cows. So speculated the ancient philosopher, Xenophanes. They would fashion a lord in their own likeness, a projection of the divine bovine, one whose face would launch a thousand stampedes. And I suppose one could say the same about horses, or dogs, or snakes. Or humans. As has often been said, in the beginning, God made us in his own image, and ever since we have been returning the favor.

That brings two truths to mind. One is that if humans had a god, he would look like a human. And, at least for the Christian, he does. For we have no other God except Jesus Christ. He is the image of the invisible God, who has become as fully human as a human can be, while remaining as fully God as God can be. In the beginning God made us in his own image, and in the fullness of time, he made that image his own.

The second truth, however, is that just because God has become a man does not mean he thinks, desires, or speaks as man generally does. For this man, Jesus, is love incarnate, and love lives according to the ways of heaven--ways that often leave earthly man bewildered, furious, or stuck in adamant disbelief. He who says, ''I'm sure that God wants...'' or ''I think God would...'' but does not base his words on God's words, but on mere human speculation or his own life experience, is in grave danger of putting words in God's mouth that he himself would spit out in disgust. He who speaks for God must speak only as God has spoken.

If you want to know what God thinks about something, or what he would say about this or that, and you look outside Jesus Christ for the answer, or outside his Word, you may speak your thoughts eloquently or convincingly, but all they remain are verbalized idolatry.