Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Loving God in a Form

Love is to be found all around us. Loving people, things, God, ourselves…it is apparent that we all have felt this emotion. However, when it comes to God it seems that many wish to believe or love a formless God. This does not apply when speaking about a loved person or someone we are attracted to. We love a certain person, who then we marry, for example. We don’t fall in love with a formless person. Therefore, love is personified. This applies also to God. We need to understand the deity in a form we can relate to. This is evident, within the Orthodox world, through iconography. Icons differ according to the icon painter, according to his/her personal culture, colour. For example an icon painted in the Greek world will show an olive skinned Christ. An icon painted in China will depict a Chinese Jesus, in Africa, an African Jesus etc. This is not to be considered wrong. Historically we can identify that he was Jewish and would, therefore, be Mediterranean; nonetheless, being able to cultivate a relationship between God and humanity is the objective.

Philip Sherrard, in his book Christianity and Eros, explains on this theme: ‘It may be possible ultimately to love God free from all form. But it is certainly better for man to love God in a form to which he can respond, and which has meaning for him, than it is to imagine he is loving a formless God when really he is simply committed to a spiritual vacuum. For in this way – in this loving of the divine in the creature – he is at least in touch with the Divinity.’ (pp.46-7). 

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