“The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities” by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
Murillo, The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities, about 1675-1682
Photo © The National Gallery, London
We are told that God created us in His image, and for centuries people have assumed that God is a bearded man sitting on a cloud in Heaven looking down on us.
Artists over the years have painted Him as a human being, no doubt taking their clue from what the Bible said about us and His image, and also from the fact that Christ, His only Son, came down to earth as a human being.
But what does God really look like?
Is He a Spirit somewhere in the sky, or wherever? But the Holy Spirit has been depicted, and seen, as a dove and tongues of fire. Is that what God looks like?
It is worth remembering that although we are taught that God always existed, so does Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus did not begin to exist the day He was born on earth. He has always existed. When He was born on earth, this is when He took the shape of a human being, a baby, born amongst us. He is "Consubstantial to the Father". From Latin consubstantialem, of one essence or substance. He always was and is.
So although we accept, and many have seen, Jesus in human form, and the Holy Spirit has been seen as a dove, tongues of fire or bright lights, no one has actually seen God. And we cannot therefore assume that He looks like any of these.
In essence it does not matter what God looks like. Christ taught that He is a Father in Heaven to help those people listening to Him at the time to understand Deity in a form their minds can comprehend.
What we need to concentrate on is that God is love. Unmeasurable love Whose desire is that we all one day will be united with Him in Heaven. He is mercy. He is forgiveness. He is goodness and patience. And all that one would wish from a caring Creator.
And that's what it means to be created in His image.
We all have the potential to love, to have mercy and pity for our fellow beings, to forgive, to be good and patient and caring, and everything else that we consider God, our Creator, to be.
Yet ... sadly yet ... despite being created in His image, with all this Godly potential, there are many it seems who live their lives with none of these qualities in their behaviour.