Be an Icon

By Richard Johnston


The Greek word translated “image” in most English versions of the Bible is eikon, from which we get the word “icon.” It is used in the Bible both literally (e.g., Matthew 22:20, where Jesus asked whose image was on the Roman coin), and figuratively (e.g., Colossians 1:15 and Hebrews 1:3, in which the apostle Paul says that Jesus is the express image of the invisible God). The Septuagint, which was the first standard translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek, called Adam the “eikon of God.”

The sculptures, paintings, and carvings in orthodox churches are called icons—the anglicized rendering of eikones. So are people who are greatly admired or considered so good at what they do—entertainers, sports stars, entrepreneurs, etc.—that they have practically become synonymous with their area of expertise. No sooner were computer screens invented, it seems, than they began to get cluttered with little pictures that are called icons. Some have even taken on a life of their own, like the yellow smiley face and its dramatic derivatives, which are called emoticons.

Some people also use the word “icon” to explain the Christian’s role in the world. We are to strive to be images of Christ by doing as He did, or would do today. That’s not a bad idea. If we can apply that to our fellow believers—if we can see them as images of the Lord—it engenders brotherly love and respect. Mother Teresa took that concept a step further. “I see Jesus in every human being,” she said. “I say to myself, ‘This is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.'”

Few of us will ever attain to the level of selfless love that Mother Teresa came to symbolize, but we can and should strive to be more like Jesus. We do that by spending time with Jesus, getting to know Him and His Word, and practicing what He preached and lived. “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

That transformation begins the moment you receive Jesus as your Savior and invite Him into your life. If you haven’t already, you can do that right now by praying this prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank You for coming and dying for me so I can be forgiven my sins, experience Your love here and now, and have the promise of eternal life in Heaven. I open my heart and invite You in. Amen.


Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.


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