Then God said, “Let us make man[h] in our image, after our likeness…” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them.
Once upon a time, God created you and me in his own image. That’s how ALL our individual stories begin. Every single one of us has the exact same starting point – He knit us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139). What a gloriously intimate portrait of how sacred and blessed our lives are as
Once upon a time, God created me in His image in Kolkata, India. Seven or eight years into my story, I was in Kids Church eagerly anticipating a pretty big event: I was finally going to learn what God really looked like! Can you even imagine the excitement? I could barely stand it! I, along with the rest of my class queued up to await our turn.
At last I was at the front of the queue – it took forever! I was led into a top-secret booth where I first had to promise not to tell anyone about what I saw. Next I was instructed to step behind a shiny red curtain. My heart thumping, I nervously moved behind the curtain ready for the most AMAZING face of Jesus...
But wait, why am I looking at
my reflection in a mirror?? What’s going on here? I want my money back! Before I could make my objections known, my teacher gently said, “Remember, you were created in God’s image – you look just like Him!” Feeling ten feet tall, I returned to my classmates, each of us grinning from ear to ear, each of us thrilled that we looked like God! That lesson so long ago left an impression on my young mind. Imago Dei. In. His. Image.
That memory came rushing back to me many years later as I made my way through the Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda. That beautiful country, land lush with green banana groves and coffee plantations and red-earth hillsides, was devastatingly ravaged by a genocide in 1994. It was one hundred days of relentless violence that left almost a million Rwandans dead. These were neighbors, friends, in-laws who killed one another, wiping out entire families. All Image-Bearers destroyed by machetes and hate. Standing beside one of the mass graves at the memorial, it struck me that the Enemy had surely identified a primary target that would deeply grieve the Creator: destroy His most beloved creation, His Image-Bearers. Stripping away that sacredness gives Satan a hate-filled grip on us.
Rwanda has been on my mind because it was reported last week that the mastermind behind the genocide, the millionaire who funded the violent rebel army of Hutus who dehumanized the Tutsis by calling them “cockroaches” before killing them, had finally been arrested in France. This genocide engineer will at last be brought to justice twenty-six years after he convinced Rwandans to strip away the sacred and be blinded by hate for fellow Image-Bearers.
How different would our decisions and actions be if we habitually acknowledged every person we encountered as an Image-Bearer? Are we mindful that everyone we meet – our annoying neighbor, our rude family member, the laid-back Zoom host, and Mr. Dean who stops by the church daily to pick up a Blessing Bag –
is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God?
One thing I know: I need Jesus to help me see others the way He sees them, so that I can love them the way He loves them. Let us make that our prayer. We are all Image-Bearers, created in His likeness, let us pray that we become more like Christ daily.