I write this for those who are curious about some of my evangelistic conversations. It is my goal to write as accurately as I can.
My Orthodox friend and I met through a mutual friend who evangelizes for a local non-denominational church. After getting some corndogs at cafeteria in grocery store under the mall, we took the elevator to the third floor and sat down in the food court. I pulled out my notepad and the conversation began.
What are icons? I asked, having seen many Orthodox Christians kiss them. Icons are everywhere in Romania. They are on the side of the road at times and many people hang them up at their jobs, whether they be an insurance agent, taxi, or elementary teacher.
He responded, how icons depict spiritual truths and some of them have inscriptions on them. They are perfect paintings, no mistakes. Orthodox Christians must respect them, they are necessary, but one does not always need to pray to them. They are useful. For many people in the villages who cannot read, icons can illustrate the text for the illiterate.
Okay, I responded, but why do people kiss them? Isn’t that a form of worship?
After thinking for a moment, he responded. Yes, it is a form of worship. But not everyone needs to kiss them. Actually, some Orthodox Christians who are very concerned with hygiene don’t.
But doesn’t the Old Testament clearly say we are not to make an image of God? I asked. And grasping for other reasons, I continued, Paul was bit by a snake once and when others wanted to worship him yet he said we all must only worship God. If you worship icons, is that not something else?
My mother does not believe in icons, he replied. And she doesn’t go to church either. It is just how you want to worship God, I think.
Yeah? But Paul said in Galatians 1:8-9, if you preach a different gospel, then you are to be cursed, rejected. Doesn’t that mean there is a right and a wrong way?
My friend responded, some traditions are okay like how we paint the eggs during easter. That isn’t wrong.
Not really sure what we were talking about anymore, I wrote a picture of a face on the back of a napkin. Then I asked, is this piece of paper, which has a sketch of you on it, you? If I started talking to this piece of napkin, would I be talking to you?
That is different, he responded. God is not like us. I can talk to you just like this but God is different. An image can help us think of God.
Okay, but do you at least agree that this piece of paper is not you? And also, we can actually talk to God just like we are. We don’t need an image. Just like this, we can talk to God.
Please let me know if you enjoyed reading this. Also, feel free to contribute to the conversation. How would you respond and what do you think about icons? In your commenting, I ask you please comment with grace
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