In the Image of God
The tragedy that unfolded at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh is heavy on my heart. I am burdened by the loss of innocent lives, the hate that led to it and the darkness that has descended on our society.
I have stopped speculating on “why?” Perhaps we can identify factors past and present that have brought us to this place. But the answer has been evident since Cain rose up against his brother Abel. We are a sinful, rebellious people who seem determined to destroy the image of God.
We are all made in His image.
When we hate, we devalue what God has put in His creation.
This is why He holds the murderer accountable. (Genesis 9:6)
As well as the one who destroys his brother with words. (Matthew 5:22)
God does not view attacks on His image lightly.
It is obvious we have lost the ability to distinguish between our common brotherhood as God’s creation and our unique identities. For some reason we are threatened by those who have different perspectives and convictions.
Don’t misunderstand. I hold firmly to several truths I not only choose to live by, but also bank on for all eternity. I trust in God as my Creator, Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit, as my seal of salvation. I believe Jesus is the “way, the truth and life” and I have spent my life sharing Him with others so they will have the assurance of eternal life.
But this doesn’t change the common ground.
Our daughter grew up with a dear friend whose family attended a local synagogue. We attended her Bat-Mitzvah and shared our homes and hot chocolate after our sled runs in the winter. When we parted due to a relocation I was given a signed copy of the Hebrew scriptures.
The neighborhood I live in is diverse. My African-American neighbors and I look out for one another and help each other out in times of need. We swap church stories and updates on our children. Now our grandchildren.
Several years ago, a Muslim family moved in next to my mother who lives in Florida. My mother pours love into the family members’ lives and they check on her when storms roll through.
Made in His image.
I have an Atheist friend. I don’t buy his claims, but I care for him. We talk about a number of things and I appreciate the way he loves his wife and children. I am worried about his soul, but we are friends.
What do I see when I talk to people who are different?
I see differences, of course. It is silly to claim I don’t recognize what makes us unique. But the heart of God, as revealed in the scriptures, reminds me I have a starting point with all of His creation.
Made in His image.
I have strong convictions, but how can I ever hope to show anyone Christ if I can’t love them as He loved them? If I can’t value what God put in them?
This is why my heart hurts to see such pain at the hands of someone who has lost sight of the common ground.
Common ground doesn’t put us in full agreement with each other. It doesn’t align all of our convictions. Nor does it mean it doesn’t ultimately matter what we believe.
It does matter.
But if we forget the common ground, other things that matter are rendered irrelevant.
I have never met anyone who wasn’t created in the image of God.
I never will.