La Trahison des images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) currently hangs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It is considered one of Rene Magritte’s Surrealist masterpieces and an icon of modern art. In English, it is called The Treachery of images (This is not a pipe).
I first thought this was just an interesting picture of a pipe, but when I had Google translate it for me, I became intrigued to know more about it. So, I did a minimal amount of digging: I went to Wikipedia. In his book, Magritte: Ideas and Images, Harry Torczyner quotes Magritte as saying, “The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture ‘This is a pipe’, I’d have been lying!”
This isn’t a pipe, but it’s an image of a pipe. How many times have we put stock in an image of something? I think back to how many times I’ve placed the value on an image of Christ, and therefore robbed Christ Himself of His value. I’m continually learning to train my spiritual senses to see Christ in more and more things, but the object is still to see Christ, not the image. I can’t stop at the image; I have to move past that to what I’m really wanting to behold: Christ Himself. I’m tremendously grateful for all the pictures of Christ that God paints throughout creation, but He never intended those images to take the place of His Son.
Even the nation of Israel was just a picture. But it became the thing. The temple, the law, the sacrifices – all just pictures of the spiritual reality that is Christ, but they all were seen as the thing. Christ is the fulfillment, the reality, of all things! And now, He desires to fulfill and express His life through the Church. But the Church, I fear, only sees Herself as a picture, or an image, of Christ. But She is so much more! The Church is His Body – Christ living on the earth today! Not just an image, but Christ Himself, living among and through His living stones. Such a beautiful revelation!
So, this is not a pipe, it is just an image of a pipe. The Church is not just an image of Christ, She is the living expression of Christ Himself. Oh, the treachery of images.