Thursday, June 16, 2016

The image and likeness of God.

We live in such crazy times. We have lost our way and are walking down a road to lunacy that will be difficult to come back from. We have always identified ourselves by our attributes. I am a white, American, Catholic male. That paints a pretty good picture as to the group I am in but it tells you almost nothing about the person I actually am. We have gone to an extreme by attaching our self-worth on these attributes we have absolutely no control over. Every minority has their own “pride” month. We are allowing ourselves to be separated from one another based upon unchangeable attributes like skin color, sexual orientation, and genitalia.

The civil rights fight that ran from the Civil War through the sixties was about one group of people with an unchanging attribute trying to get another group of people to see and accept them as people. They weren’t looking for special treatment. They were looking for equal treatment. Martin Luther King’s dream was that his children would someday be seen as Americans who were black and not as blacks who were American. See the person first, not the attribute of that person.

Many in today’s culture have forgotten that lesson and are demanding to be accepted according to their attributes. We are regressing, re-segregating ourselves into like groups. Then the groups demand to be respected above other groups. How many stories are out there of bakers or florists being sued because they would not bake a cake or make flower arrangements for a same sex marriage? The same sex couple uses the same argument the blacks did when they fought for their civil rights. It was wrong for a restaurant to deny service to a black person or to require them to sit in a special section just because of their skin color, therefore, it is also wrong for a baker to deny the same sex couple a cake for their wedding day simply because they are of the same sex. The argument sounds logical on the surface but is not really the same.

Blacks were denied service because people did not see them as fully human. They did not view them as people with equality to themselves. This is not the truth with a same sex marriage. The baker is not denying service because the baker believes that the same sex couple are not fully human. The baker is refusing service because the activity goes against their conscience and they do not wish to participate in it. This is not discrimination but exercise of conscience. Now, if the baker had a brick and motor store and denied the same sex couple to enter that store because they are gay, that would be discrimination that should never be tolerated.

The devil is very crafty. A house divided cannot stand. He is doing everything he can to get us to divide ourselves. Once divided our culture cannot stand and we will look upon our brother with hate in our heart. Because I fear what is different I cannot look at you, who are different from me, with anything but fear and hate. I cannot see the person you are because I cannot see past the attributes of the person you are. These are truly the devil’s times.

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1: 26-27

So what does it mean that God created us in his image? What is God? God is love and from that love flows justice and mercy. We were created in the image and likeness of love. Not just any type of love. We were created in the image and likeness of agape, sacrificial love. Love is greatly misunderstood today because the word love has been redefined and abused. For many love is a feeling. A feeling is directed inward. It is something inside me. Sacrificial love is never directed inward. Agape is not a feeling, it is an action. It is to will the best for a person despite what is best for the self. I do not have to be attracted to you, to lust after you, desire you, or even know you to love you. All I have to do is to will the best for you, to put your genuine wellbeing first and I will have loved you.

If we all were created in the image and likeness of God we all are a reflection of God. When I look at you I look at the face of God. When I look at you I shouldn’t see a black or a white, a straight or a gay, a male or a female. I should see a person with God endowed dignity deserving of my love and respect. This is the way every Christian is called to treat every person, Christian or not, that they come in contact with. We are not to espouse hate or division. Let not an evil word leave my lips.

Jesus was God. Jesus hung up being God to become one of us, to die for us. He freely chose to die for what someone would consider the lowliest among us. If God, the creator of everything, respected the lowliest among us enough to give his life for that person I owe that person the same level of respect. Jesus loves the homeless, the poor, the drug addicted, the homosexual, the transgender, the Muslim, and the atheist. If Jesus loves these people and willfully died for them I must love them as well. Their worth as people is tied directly to their dignity and not to their attributes.

Do not give in to the devil’s attempts to divide us and pit us against ourselves. Love your brother as you love God, with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole strength, and your whole being. Stop referring to people and grouping them by their attributes. They are not black people or white people or gay people or Muslim people or conservative people or liberal people. They are people, people made in the image and likeness of God. Love them first.

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