Updated: Mar 4
Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, is one of the most iconic works of art ever. Historically, it would have been inconceivable, even downright criminal, to deface such a classic gem. But in recent times, and via the introduction of the internet, there's no shortage of modifications and reinterpretations of da Vinci's masterpiece.
Anyone can do a quick internet search and find Mona Lisa flexing huge biceps, with a beer mustache, eating potato chips, smoking the devil's lettuce, or as one of Gru's goofy minions. We chuckle... and then innocently swipe on.
It may seem innocent and subtle, but it's actually neither. It's evidence that we've not merely allowed our values and world to be turned topsy-turvy, but we're actually the ones who initiated, invited and embraced it. What it exposes is that we've become incredibly desensitized to wonder, majesty, and, more importantly, the sacredness of God our Creator.
While rejecting the sacred, we're simultaneously cultivating a culture of extreme over-sensitivity to trash media's endgame - stirring up political unrest, exacerbating racial tension, inflating the scope of police brutality, promoting "alternative" lifestyles as progressive and normative, advocating the necessity of big government via mandatory masks, vaccines, gun control, etc. We're being submerged and indoctrinated into the toxic garbage someone (or something) else is promoting as our new and inevitable reality.
Philippians 2:5-6 reads, "Let this mindset be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus - Who, (eternally) existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God (the Father) something to be seized..."
The Garden of Eden is one part of human history that many (including Christians) either ignore or reduce to fantasy or fable. In doing so, what we're really ignoring is the Truth. In our ongoing rebellion, we refuse to admit God's revelation is absolutely correct in His assessment of our systemic wickedness, universal corruption, and total depravity (see Romans 3:10-12, 23; 5:12; Psalm 14:1-3; et. al.).
Seizing is nothing new for us. Genesis 3:5-6 reveals, “For God knows that in the day you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes and desirable for obtaining wisdom, she seized the (forbidden) fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.
After wholeheartedly embracing the serpent's original fatal #fakenews media campaign (stirring up doubt, creating chaos, and calling God Almighty's loyal-love into question), the man and woman attempted to seize that which God had already accomplished - our being like our Creator. We know this because Genesis 1:26 reveals our God of Holy Trinity said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness...”
We've been doing the same thing ever since - entertaining and embracing the serpent's original fatal #fakenews media campaign. Sure, it looks a little different several thousands of years later, but that's only because the serpent, the accuser, the deceiver, the father of lies... is still the craftiest in all of creation. Scripture reveals he masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14)... even leading saints astray (Matt 24:24)!
One (not so) subtle form of apostasy is in modifying our perfected identity in Christ. Rather than simply being known as "followers of The Way" (Acts 9:1-2), "born-again" believers (John 3:3), "members" of His Masterpiece (Eph 2:10), or "Christians," we expose ongoing rebellion and autonomy through a desire to reinterpret what it means to be "like God." We mar and deface our perfected identity in Christ with adjectives such as, "reformed," "charismatic," "evangelical," "black," "cowboy," or "legitimate." As if "Christian" needs any modification.
Any attempt to modify our perfected identity in Christ is like giving a can of spray paint to someone and asking them to improve da Vinci's, Mona Lisa. There aren't reformed, charismatic, evangelical, black, white, cowboy, biker, rich, poor... or any other modified version or variety of Christians. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28).
Either our old self truly has been buried with Christ in baptism, or it hasn't (Rom 6:4)...
We've either been crucified with Christ, or we haven't (Gal 2:20)...
We're either denying self, picking up our cross daily, and following Him, or we're not (Luke 14:27)...
We're either advancing His kingdom to the ends of the earth, or we're advancing another (Acts 1:8)...
Are we completely content, as the Apostle Paul was (Phil 4:11-13), with our full and exclusive identity perfected in Christ - daily being sanctified to that end... or are we more interested in modifying it - exposing that we don't really want to embrace God's image at all? Am I exposing what I truly desire isn't actually transformation into His image and likeness, but, instead, attempting to modify Him, the eternally perfect Son of God, into mine?
Grace and Peace,