Image Bearers

Others, Poverty

So God created humankind in His image,
in the image of God He created them;
male and female He created them.
Genesis 1:27 (NRSV)

God created us in His own image. Each of us is loved by our Creator, no matter our gender, abilities, possessions, mistakes, rebellion… No matter what we have done or what has been done to us. He loves us so much that He commissioned His own Son to die so that we could be reconciled to Him.

If you’re like me, you’re thinking, I learned this in Sunday School at least once a year since I was five. Next.

But when I examine my heart, I wonder if I really get it. Because I could recite at least fifteen verses about God’s love for every person. By heart. Backwards. But I also know how easily I’m drawn toward beautiful, principled, smart, successful people. People who agree with me and do no harm and look good on camera.

When we walk or drive past a person with an “Anything helps” sign, do we see an image-bearer? What about kids in the foster system along with those who abused them? Illegal immigrants and refugees, drug addicts, convicts…How about people who disagree with me politically or let their dogs bark all night? I wonder how my behavior would be different if I really saw Jesus’ image in every person, the way Mother Teresa did.

At Reconciled World, we get to hear the most amazing stories of how the simple truth of God’s love for His image-bearers can change lives.

All over the Majority world, we find men—Christian men—who have always been taught that only men are created in the image of God, and that wives are possessions. They consider women too stupid to learn, too carnal to be let out of the house, too much like children not to be punished. As these men learn the truth that all people are created by God with equal value, many suddenly want to honor and treat kindly the image-bearers they’re married to. Abusive marriages have been healed.

Realizing that daughters, as well as sons, are image-bearers, one pastor became a passionate advocate for educating girls. His people had never before sent their daughters to school, but now all the girls in his area have the opportunity to receive an education.

In India, this truth is transforming the way people think about and treat children with disabilities. Traditionally, they have been considered a curse, bad karma. It was common to find these children hidden away, locked in a room, chained in the yard. Although India is home to as many as 60 million people with disabilities, they have been all but invisible in society. In His Image is changing that. They work with just 40 students at their center, treating every child with the dignity and hope due to an image-bearer. The transformed lives of those students and their families have gotten the attention of schools, businesses, national organizations, and the government. More and more people are seeing the purpose and potential in the lives of people with disabilities.

One pastor in Uganda shared that the widows in his village had stopped committing suicide. When we dug deeper to find out why this had happened, we discovered the widows, seeing no other way to provide for themselves and their children, had been prostituting themselves. To numb the pain of that lifestyle, most became addicted to alcohol. When they couldn’t stand it anymore, many committed suicide. Then the church started sharing the message that everyone is created in the image of God. When the widows learned that God not only called them valuable, but had put His own image in them, they gained hope. They started to care for themselves. They sought new solutions to the problems that had felt insurmountable before.

The examples of changed lives are endless. I long to see this truth seep into our hearts and minds in such a way that we would experience the same kind of transformation in our communities. Human effort won’t heal us; we need His intervention. We invite you to pray with us this month that many more would know the truth that all people are made in the image of God and deeply loved by Him, and that the truth would set us free.

-Pray that God would deeply root this truth in the hearts and minds of people experiencing vulnerability, especially women, children, people with disabilities, and those experiencing oppression because of their race or faith.

-Pray that those perpetrating violence or oppression, or who are complacent in the face of it, would learn and believe this truth, and that it would bring a change to their behavior toward others.

-Pray for families—for healed marriages and for parents to see the inherent value in each of their children, whether they are boys or girls, deaf or hearing, the first child or the tenth.

-Pray for just societies. Pray that governments will make and enforce laws that reflect the truth that all people have intrinsic value. Pray for those in conflict to understand that even their enemies are made in the image of God, and that this truth would bring peace among people of different ethnicities, nations, genders, faiths, and social classes.

-Pray for those working amongst vulnerable people to know and teach biblical truth with the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:3-5).

Written by Glynka FritzMiller
Originally published by Reconciled World, March 5, 2018. For more information about their organization, please see the Reconciled World website.