“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9
I have started to discover in the past few years what it means to be secure and solidified as a knit creation in the image of God. Raised in a single family home, the assumption from others was that, due to my circumstances, I would be nothing but a statistic, and another African-American kid without a dad. I grew up in a home that saw everyone as equal and had a heaven-like viewpoint when interacting with others of various cultures and differences. Yet, a big struggle was growing up in an environment that was predominantly Caucasian. It was a challenge connecting with others who looked like me and who were of the same culture and race. I was criticized for looking and acting differently, degraded, and called unthinkable names.
Over time, I noticed that I had developed a sense of prejudice towards others that were of my own culture and race. I had to learn that who others saw me as, or who they thought I would become, was not who God created me to be. He made me in his image and likeness. And because of this, I am to love others from all walks of life, nations, and creeds selflessly. I am to serve humbly and be confident in his direction for my life.
We live in a country and a society that defines, judges, and often criticizes others, based on race, gender, speech—even the clothes we wear. As Christians we can so easily forget that we are to biblically view others through the lens of our creator.
Imago Dei (image of God) is a theological term, applied uniquely to humans, which denotes the symbolical relation between God and humanity. The term has its roots in Genesis 1:27, where in “God created man in his own image.” This passage does not mean that God is in human form, but rather, that humans are in the image of God in their moral, spiritual, and intellectual nature.
There are days I wonder what life would be like if I was part of a Syrian refugee family, or an immigrant from another country being dropped off in a community where I did not understand the language, culture, or look like the everyday person. Would I still be secure knowing that I am a child of God, made in his image, and because of that, treated, accepted, and loved as such?
Rev. Dr. Art Lindsley, Vice President of Theological Initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics profoundly states, “The people you see every day, even the ones to whom you give little regard, are ones that are going to live forever either under salvation or judgment. Even the most obscure person is not ordinary in God’s eyes.”
Psalm 139 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” The view of human beings being intrinsically of equal value and created in the image of God should alter how we view the value of human life, racial injustice, slavery and sex trafficking.
In the Dred Scott vs Sandford case of 1856, Dred Scott appealed court for the right to be a free man. The vote by the Supreme Court said African Americans were not citizens and not able to receive rights to justice in the legal system. This was morally wrong and goes against the fundamental imago Dei that leads to human-flourishing according to Christians and many non-Christians alike. Supreme Court Justice John McLean said, “A slave is not mere chattel. He bears the impress of his Maker, and he is destined to an endless existence.”
McLean’s argument advocated that Dred Scott was made in the image of God. He was a man with a soul and value. This is exactly why, when an individual is murdered, there is a case, an investigation, people are tried in court, and justice is hopefully achieved. This is not done, however, for the killing of a cow for a steak fillet. Why? Because human beings have certain unalienable rights, and bear the imago Dei, the image of their Creator. For human nature to fully flourish and individuals to live a “happy existence”, humanity must be treated with value. Jesus says in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
What is your daily outlook on diversity, and your attitude towards others that are different than yourself? If you struggle with negative harbored feelings or beliefs in this area, I encourage you to take some time and surrender those feelings to the Lord. Remember, that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But, what a blessing it is to be loved and created by a God of transformation, a God who meets us where we are and is working to transform us one area at a time.
Reflect on this…
Have there been times in your life when you have seen people as different from you and it has made you consider them as being of less value because of it? As you consider this question remember that God loves you in the midst of your messy thoughts and feelings.
Has there been a time in your life when you saw someone as different from you and you were blessed by that difference?
What is one area you would like to see transformation in how you feel about diversity?