The Power of Imago Dei…..

This week I am going back to where it all started, Imago Dei. If you have seen the Latin titles and do not really understood what they mean, let me explain it to you. I preached a sermon on Imago Dei a couple of years ago and it had a great impact on me. I found myself using it practically in my life on a regular basis. If someone cut me off driving or I got cussed out at church (believe it or not, it happens often at Under Over Fellowship), I found myself saying, “Imago Dei.” This was a reminder to myself that this person, in spite of their behavior, was made in the Image of God and I needed to treat them as such. This was so powerful in my life, I found myself asking, “What other principles can I put into action to put legs on my faith and discipleship?” And not only that, “Can I develop it in such a way that I can teach it to others?” So that is where I am. I have four weeks to go on my current writing project, but I thought it might be good to go back to the beginning so readers would have a better understanding where I am coming from. I will be posting all six days of Imago Dei this week, and then plan to return with new material next week.

PART FIVE OF SIX

There is power in Imago Dei in the way we love people.

In Bob Goff’s best selling book, Everybody Always, he wrote this, “In high school, someone asked me if I had ‘met Jesus.’ I thought he was kidding. ‘Of course not,” I answered literally. I still haven’t. I don’t have any friends who have either. From what I’ve read, very few people on this side of heaven have actually met God. Adam and Eve did. Joseph and Mary did. Moses did on top of a mountain. Some shepherds and a few wise men make the list. A boatful of fishermen, a couple of thieves on a hill. There were plenty of others, but not as many as you think. By contrast, there were a lot of people who watched Jesus from a distance. He walked their streets and went to their parties. He stood before leaders, and a few even saw Him raised up on a cross. I suppose they could say they met him, but at best, they probably just got a glimpse of Him. For a long time, I saw Jesus from a distance and thought we’d met. It still happens to me every time I avoid people God made in His own image just because I don’t understand them. My fear of them leaves me only with glimpses of Jesus. What I’ve come to realize is if I really want to “meet Jesus,” then I have to get a lot closer to the people He created. All of them, not just some of them. I think His plan all along has been for us to meet the people He made and feel like we just met Him.”

We are to love His people, the one’s made in His image. What is the definition of love? God. God is. So to love the others that He loves so much we must be Christlike in the way we see others, speak to others, and love others. I might define someone as a difficult person and have the tendency to avoid them. God defines them as a son or a daughter made in His image. Or, like my good friend Brannon once said speaking of someone’s behavior, “If they don’t know Jesus, what do you expect?”

In Luke 6, Jesus tells us, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” He goes on to command us to love our enemies. Yes, we are commanded to do so. Who is talking about? Is it the former Soviet Union or Communist China? The Taliban? Is it Thanos (for you Avengers fans)? That’s what we tend to think of.

He meant we should love those we don’t understand. Those we don’t see eye to eye with. Those who might just be unkind and unloving to us. You know, normally the people we try to avoid. And we can’t just say, “Yes, I agree with you Jesus., we should love our enemy.” We actually have to be doers of the word, which honestly can be not fun sometimes. But Jesus did not fun things, didn’t he? Like dying on the cross for our sake.

So okay-we are to love everyone, including our enemies. God said so. What does this mean? How do we do this? Again, God is love. We are to be Jesus to them right where they are, offering kindness, encouragement, grace, and forgiveness. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes love is tough. It is biblical to rebuke a brother in love and hold them accountable. But remember, the key is, in love.

Jesus Himself said we would identify ourselves simply by how we loved people. And what better way to love someone than to be the gospel to them (this includes kindness, encouragement, grace, and forgiveness); to speak the gospel to them. For someone to meet us and feel like they just met Jesus.

There is power in Imago Dei in the way we love people.

Just for today, meditate on this truth.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Six……

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