Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Image Restoration

Since I may not have time today to really reflect on my Bible reading, I figured I would go ahead and post another paper I wrote. So…

As a techno-junkie, when the phrase image restoration is mentioned I immediately begin thinking about digital cameras, computer software and top-notch photo-printers. Occasionally, though, I think instead about the historical photographic prints of my ancestors in need of restoration so that I can have them preserved for the rest of my life. In either case I always forget that the image in focus cannot be restored if it wasn’t initially created in the first place. Furthermore, just the implication that the image is in need of being fixed indicates that the original is far superior to what is in hand at present. This process of image restoration can serve as a metaphor for the Image of God. Whether speaking in terms of digital photographs where the original composition loses its perfection in digital translation, or film-based prints that have been distorted from their original over time, or the Image of God that man once perfectly possessed that is now corrupt, the image is in need of restoration.

In the creation story of Genesis it is stated that man is created in the Image of God. While it does not clearly state what this image actually is, it can be inferred from other passages that this image can be described by a possession of certain traits: intellect, emotion, free will and Spiritual Capacity. Beyond this there is an obvious knowledge present to man-kind in “the Garden” of how to relate to God, the Creator. This intended Image of God that was placed in man-kind was exactly what the Creator intended; it was his masterpiece of creation. But, because of the free-will nature He placed within his art, the image became corrupt. There are many ways that a photographic print can become corrupted, but in the case of the Image of God, this corruption can be more clearly pin-pointed. With the first sin of Adam, man lost the knowledge he possessed of how to relate to God. Following the sin, God again comes into Adam and Eve’s presence, but they are no longer able to be open with Him; they hide from Him in shame. The fact that they hid indicates they still possess the basic form of the Image, but the art has been smudged. God’s perfectly created image in man is tarnished and in need of restoration.

In order to better understand the type of restoration needed, it must be clear exactly what damage was done to the print. In “the fall” Adam took the ability for man to know God as he should. Without this knowledge and without its restoration, man is forever doomed to a life filled with a propensity to sin. This urge to sin, and the inevitable act of sin, leads to a life and eternity alienated from the Creator. This is the form of distortion that creates the need for restoration. I seek to maintain my art in as close to its original form as possible because I want to enjoy them for my entire life. God, however, could, if He chose simply create a new creation. So, why restore the corrupted one? While this question cannot be succinctly answered from scripture, it is clear that whatever His reason for wanting to restore the creation it developed out of His love for His creation. Perhaps that love is so great that there exists no other reason. Paul makes this assumption in Ephesians 2:4-5, “because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.” Clearly His love played a large part in the restoration process.

As I mentioned earlier, I am a techno-junkie. So, with that I love to talk how. How do you use the computer to fix an ugly picture? How do you air-brush that flaw out of a face of an otherwise perfect print? How did God work to restore His perfect piece of art? Oddly, the ability to understand the resources directed at the photographic processes is ingrained in me, but the ability to understand the Bible and the process God used is not so easily attained. Actually, this isn’t entirely odd; I no longer have the innate knowledge of how to understand and relate to God. But, as His plan is reveled through scripture and other people to me, I am able to begin to draw the picture of the process for myself.

God’s restoration began as soon as Adam and Eve were removed from the garden. God chose Abram to begin a line of people, Israel, which would be His people. Through this line God would bring a single person who would restore the original image This person could not just be another man from the line of Adam, however. It required the act of God himself to repair the flaw. So, Jesus, God on earth as man, was the climax of the process. Jesus led the life of man that God had originally intended: fully devoted and in a true relationship with the Creator. He provided the example for everyone. He became an atoning sacrifice on a cross and was raised by God to provide the capacity for the eternal relationship that Adam and Eve should have claimed. The tool for restoration is, therefore, available to everyone. But not all claim it and use it. Since free-will is still part of the perfect image, we still maintain the ability to refuse to be restored. But, for those of us who choose to be restored we allow the restoration to happen in part, according to Romans 12:2, “by the renewing of our minds.” The combination of our intellect, emotion, spirituality, and an attained knowledge of a relationship with God are again available to us.

God is the ultimate artist. He painted a perfect picture that was marred by the choice of His own masterpiece. As any artist would attempt to do, God worked through the election of Israel, Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, to restore His masterpiece to its immaculate, gallery form and content. And one day He will complete the restoration, and we will be eternally united with our Creator.