Icons- faith in our image

In 2009 I had the amazing opportunity to tour some of the Mediterranean countries with my mother.  I was a history major and I’m currently an artist so I was giddy with all the ancient artwork.  One of the things that was really fascinating were the icons.  Each generation seems to depict the mother and child, or the saints in their own current style.  When I was growing up Jesus was depicted as a long haired flowerchild with an aquiline nose, fair skin and the hands of a nobleman.  He even had blonde highlights.  Groovy.

I grew up with manger scenes that had the shepherds, Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the three wise men. It was only in my 20s that I learned that the wisemen didn’t find Jesus until he was almost 2 years old.  They were never at the manger at all!

One of my friends is a polymer clay artist who creates the most fabulous angels in all skin colours. One day she had a woman stop and comment saying she thought she should mention that the angels were racist as they depicted race (as if all pink angels aren’t our own form of racial bias). I winced and we laughed our fannies off (I wish) because the shopper didn’t understand the difference between racial and racist. She just knew that referencing race must be negative.

Several years back there was a big Christian women’s conference that took place in England. It almost came to a screeching halt before it began.  The Americans were appalled that the so-called British Christian were meeting in a pub, having beers and some were even smoking.  The Brits were equally offended by the excess of makeup, jewelry and worldly wardrobe of the so-called American Christians.

One of our cultural icons is to be thin. Even in the church we have  videos with titles like “Firm Believer” designed for Christian weight loss. (Please feel free to be grossly ashamed of this tacky commercialization of our faith).  I am not thin but not out of proportion. When I went for a trip to Turkey I couldn’t believe the attention I got because I had, as I was told, a real woman’s body. It was so jarring.  A curvy figured was admired and skinny was ignored.  Talk about a paradigm shift!

So what’s my point?

So many arguments in the church often come down to the conceit that unless everyone worships, prays and praises the way we do that they are wrong.  Unfortunately we are often blind to the cultural filter that we apply to our faith.  Like the icons, we overlay when we know from our society  on to our definitions of true Christian life.

How does this apply to being divorced Christian women looking for our place in the Christian community?

One of the modern additions to Christian life is that we must all be leaders. We must excel, we must find our passion and we must do something significant.  The question is who does God want us to be and what is significant to God?  Volunteering as part of the Body  is good.  What he really designed us for is relationship with him.  This is better.  It is who you are, not what you do, but don’t take my word for it.  As much as I or any other person with an opinion can try to be objective we are also affected by our world.

In finding our place we have to really read the word and see what it says.  Find out what He is really asking and what is pop culture.  What expectations do we put on ourselves that have nothing to do with God’s purposes for us?  Be ready not to do what is expected but what is right before God.  Do not shoulder yokes that were never yours, besides ladies, they are a misery to accessorize!  Trudging forward with you, D.

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