In one of our youth talks recently, we said that men and women were both created in the image of God (imago Dei, see Gen. 1:26-27). This is something that is so fundamental to how we treat each other. The world tells us that we treat each other with respect and dignity because there are basic human rights, but the Bible tells us that we treat each other with respect and dignity because each of us are made in the image of God. Each of us represents God, although in a very broken way.
This is perhaps one of the Christian truths that many of us agree with intellectually, but don’t practise in our daily lives. Consider this: each and every human being is made in the image of God. That includes the person you can’t stand and don’t want to be around at all. That person is made in the image of God. Are you treating that person the same way you would treat God’s representative?
What happens when we lose sight of each other being images of God? When we don’t see each other as images of God, we de-person each other, because you can’t be a person without also being an image of God. This means that when we treat our relationships with each other as purely functional, as means to our own ends, we de-person each other; when we tear each other down, seeing only faults without affirming each other, we de-person each other, precisely because we are not truly seeing each other.
We’ve been reading through Paul’s letters for quite a while now—did you notice that Paul does not de-person others? He sees them with their flaws and issues and doesn’t gloss over them, but he also affirms them, and he seeks their spiritual growth and sanctification. He respects the recipients of his letters as images of God and writes accordingly. In today’s text, Ephesians 1:15-23, we see Paul giving thanks for the Ephesians, affirming them, and praying for their growth in knowledge of God and hence Christlikeness.
We are God’s people, we are God’s children, and we are also, each of us, images of God. Do we see each other?