Is imagining what God is like idolatry?
Hi Mr. Hamilton,
How have you been?
I’ve been wondering, is it sinful or idolatrous for me to try and picture God or Christ in my mind? This is often something I do whenever I pray for God’s wisdom on a matter, when I’m stressed out about something and just want to leave those worries to Him, or even when I’m having trouble falling asleep. In any situation, it’s always been something that’s helped me to relax and rest my mind. In particular, the image would just be of Christ on the judgment seat, clothed in white with an unseen face. Would this be considered idolatry?
Imagery is frequently used in the Bible because it helps people focus on matters that may be difficult to comprehend. Ezekiel and Revelation are well-known for their vivid images of the spiritual realm but you find images throughout the Psalms and the Prophets as well, such as "I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him" (Daniel 7:13). What you are doing is visualizing the imagery used in the Bible. That isn't wrong.
Idolatry is when people decide that something (other than the true God) controls their life. It might be deciding that wearing a certain shirt will insure your team will win the next game. Or it may be worshiping before a statue and thinking the being it represents will answer your prayers. See What Is Idolatry?