Out King-ing the Fox
Mosaics are one of my favorite art forms. I look at a completed mosaic, requiring so many miniscule parts to make up a coordinated whole, and I think about how the artist originally envisioned it and the hours it must have taken to produce the finished work. Imagine, if you will, that I’m a mosaic-maker. Don’t laugh—come on, I said to use your imagination. Picture me having the skill and patience to create such a work, toiling over my masterpiece. And the work in front of me? Let’s say it’s a depiction of what I most long to see—the face of my Lord and Savior.
Who-o-o-sh—comes the sound of someone suddenly knocking my stones to the ground, scattering the thousands of pieces. How will I possibly get the picture back into position?
If you’ve read the news lately, if you’ve followed what’s hot in the world of book publishing, movies, and newspaper headlines, you know a lot of folks are attempting to come along and knock to the floor the truth about the real Christ.
Many have tried to rework Jesus’ identity, suggesting that He walked on ice, not water; that He was married to Mary Magdalene; that He was in cahoots with, not betrayed by, Judas; and that He didn’t take on human flesh—He was only a spirit. These are not evidences of newly discovered truths; they are old deceptions repackaged—recycled by the Pharisees and Gnostics—and served as leftovers today.
Dr. Jeffrey Bingham, one of our resident experts in church history, likes to quote the second-century church father Irenaeus in Against Heresies. Irenaeus compared such claims to a person rearranging the stones in a mosaic of a king into the image of a dog or fox. By doing so, Irenaeus wrote, they “deceive the inexperienced who had no idea of what the king’s picture looked like, and would persuade them that this base picture of a fox is that beautiful image of the king.”
Such rearranging is being attempted again two millennia later, and the result is a highly distorted image. Yet, while the world tries to disfigure our King’s face, we are not shaken. As you’ll be reminded through the pages of this issue of Kindred Spirit, Jesus is the Truth. God’s Word is true. We have nothing to fear as we sort through the evidence. We can trust our Savior, the God-Man; we can trust the text of Scripture as God-breathed revelation.
Our challenge is not to hide. It’s not to yell. It’s not even to ignore. Our challenge is the same given by Peter to scattered believers when Christianity came under attack in his day: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Pet. 3:15).
The faces of Christ’s followers may be the only glimpses people get of the Savior this side of eternity. Isn’t that a chilling thought? How much our Lord has entrusted to us, His ever-wandering followers!
We dare not take such regal responsibility lightly. We represent the King of Kings. So read a little. Learn or review your Christology. Brush up on some church history. Get down on your knees. Quality resources, many of them by members of the Dallas Seminary family, can help you prepare to interact in the marketplace as people try to discern “King from fox.” What opportunities we face to bear the likeness of and share the person and work of Jesus Christ who was “begotten, not created, very God of very God!”
—Mark L. Bailey