Dr. Couch, why do people need a physical idol to worship in order to be immoral, such as Israel with the golden calf?
ANSWER: There is something about the human mind that needs an object to see. This brings about a visualization of that which is opposite from God who is Spirit, and cannot be seen. To the carnal (fleshly) mind this is a kind of advancement for someone who must see their god. Christ is God in the flesh but we, in a sense, do not need to "see" God. Yet, we can visualize His mercy and grace when we look at Christ. We are able to identify His graciousness when we observe Jesus "in action." We note how He relates to people, thinks of their needs and relates to their pains and sorrows as God.
John the apostle puts it this way: "No man has seen God a any time, the only born God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him" (John 1:18). The word "explained" is "exeeomai" in Greek. The word means to "exegete" or to "lead forth." Thus, Christ "interprets, explains, describes" God be being in the flesh.
By the way, there is a textual issue in this verse, and I do not want to get too far afield in explaining the passage. But the better Greek manuscripts say "the only born (begotten) God" rather than "the only born (begotten) Son. "God" is in the better readings. In other words, Christ is the only God who has revealed Himself in flesh and was born among men!
The word "ekon" can be a good word. It is used to mean "image." Christ is 'the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15). And "the image of God" (2 Cor. 4:4). Concerning believers, Paul writes: "Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old man and with its evil practices, and have put on the new man who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image (ekon) of the One who created him" (Col. 3:9-10).
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch