Let’s hear it for graven images

When I read the book of Revelation, I am awestruck. The descriptions of Heaven are stunning-it is a richly decorated place, with an altar and incense-it is a temple, a building which aids the worshiper in reverence and worship of God. This is what I think of when I go into a cathedral. When I enter a modern Evangelical church, I’m not even sure I’m in the house of God. There is no altar, no cross, and no finery. It might as well be an auditorium to hear a business or academic lecture. There is nothing there to offend someone who might wander in off the street. People show up in their jeans; sometimes coffee is served. Does this prepare us to fall on our faces before the majesty of God, as we will one day? Do we imagine that Heaven consists of us sitting around drinking coffee with Jesus?

Of course, this informality has been done to combat “idolatry.” The best and most beautiful explanation of the use of imagery in worship that I have heard is the comparison to a man or a woman who carries pictures of their kids and spouse in their wallet or purse. No one believes that the person loves those pictures instead of their family; the images are simply a reminder. In the same way, no one actually “worships” a crucifix or the stained glass windows. Maybe its time to get some statues in the churches, or an altar or other holy place, to help create a proper feeling of reverence in our worship. Perhaps we’ve become a little too casual with Christ.

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