The Journey of God’s Image

If you were not you, if you saw yourself from the eyes of another, how would you see your journeys through life?

You would see how each journey leads away from home. Away from your birthplace, from those who nurtured you and that which made you what you are. Outwards, away from yourself in so many directions.

But you see your journey from within. From within, every journey leads in one direction: Towards within. Towards yourself. Closer and closer.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Traveling to Yourself”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

What a horrible thought. Imagine if you could see yourself the way others see you. I suppose if you look in the mirror, you may think you don’t look so bad, but when you see a photograph someone took of you, you think you look terrible. That’s the difference I experience between shaving while looking at my reflection in the morning and seeing a photo someone took of me.

Yuk. Put the camera away.

But what about who you are spiritually? This is something we see in ourselves one way and can be seen in an entirely different way from an outsider’s point of view. People may see what we do and judge us, for good or for ill, accordingly. You may see someone and by their deeds, believe they are a righteous person, but inside, who knows but God?

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. –Matthew 23:25-28 (ESV)

What about, “Woe to you?” What about, “Woe to me?”

In the 2000 movie What Women Want, ad executive Nick Marshall (played by Mel Gibson), accidentally gains the ability to hear what women are thinking (but only women, not men). Since he’s the quintessential “male chauvinist pig,” after a period of disorientation, he turns this ability to his advantage in order to manipulate women.

You men out there who complain that you don’t understand women may think that the ability to hear a woman’s thoughts would be an extremely useful and helpful gift. Boy, are you wrong. How do you know what women think of you is at all complementary? Do you really want to be shaken out of your bliss of ignorance by finding out what your wife, your girlfriend, or your female co-workers really think of you?

What does God think of you?

Yes, I know…God is love, but He’s also a judge. You Christians may say that being covered by the “blood of Jesus,” God sees him instead of you, but let’s get real. If God is all-seeing and all-knowing, then He knows all about you with no illusions and no mystical blinders. You can’t control or limit the vision of God by “claiming the blood of Christ.”

I know I see my spiritual journey from only my own point of view. I have no capacity to see myself as God sees me or to judge my path as God judges it. I am trapped within my own perceptions, and no man can truly perceive God. So in traveling forward and seeking Him, how can I really know where I’m going or if I’m even headed in the right direction? I can’t depend on myself and I can’t imagine what God sees when He sees me.

Or can I?

We were created in G-d’s image. The image of His vision.

From a point before and beyond all things, G-d looked upon a moment in time to be, and saw there a soul, distant from Him in a turbulent world, yet yearning to return to Him and His oneness. And He saw the pleasure He would have from this union.

So He invested His infinite light into that finite image, and became one with that image, and in that image He created each one of us.

As for that moment He saw, that was the moment now.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“G-d’s Image”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

This doesn’t tell me what God sees when He looks at me, but it does provide something of a clue. “…a soul, distant from Him in a turbulent world, yet yearning to return to Him…” That’s me. But here’s the really interesting part, though:

So He invested His infinite light into that finite image, and became one with that image, and in that image He created each one of us.

Remind you of anything?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. –John 1:1-5,9,14 (ESV)

I know that when Rabbi Freeman says, “He invested His infinite light into that finite image,” he is talking about God in relation to we human beings as created in His image, but the suggestion of God’s infinite light being expressed a “finite image” inevitably brings the first chapter of John’s Gospel to my mind. Also, when the Rabbi said “He saw the pleasure He would have from this union,” what I see is the joy God has when, through the covenant provided to the nations by the Master, we can also have union with God, even as the Master has such a union.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. –Galatians 3:27-29 (ESV)

We cannot see God or experience Him in any direct manner, but the Master did say that “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) That probably doesn’t mean that you are literally looking at God when you look at Jesus, but it does (probably) mean that something of God’s infinite and Divine “light” was imbued with the Master to give him a unique identity among men. Through our devotion to the Master, we can “see God,” but we can also see the best in ourselves. We can see a goal to shoot for, though not necessarily attain. We can see the endpoint of our process and the destination of our path.

We can’t see ourselves as God sees us (mercifully), but in keeping our eyes on the Master, we can see ourselves as we should be. We can see ourselves as the person we strive to be; as the person God made us to be.

For my part, I can either look at the photograph of myself and despair, or “look” at the “image” of the Messiah and try to overcome my darkness with his light. The spark within me that is fully realized within the existence of Messiah, longs to return to the Source, but is chained by flesh and blood down in the abyss. A purely human life is always chained in the darkness while longing for the light. A life of trust and faith may live in a world of darkness, but the soul can still fly free and know the day will come when true union with our Creator will be completed, as it is between the Master and God.

I and the Father are one. –John 10:30 (ESV)

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