Now, before you balk and say, well, of course we're all thankful for creation...I'm going somewhere with this. And of course, Creation covers everything so with such a broad category I guess I don't have to finish this project and write anymore posts about what I'm exercising gratitude for. But so far I've included things like: bananas, my husband, rest - so I'm covering a whole lot of random stuff that comes on my radar, and right now I'm camping out on Creation. Okay?
(Do I sound in an argumentative mood? Maybe. Sorry, I just have dialogues in my head with no-one in particular and as I write I hear what people are saying back to me, in my imagination of course...no, I'm not hearing voices. Well, maybe a few...)
My last post was in answer to a question about where we find our worth. And my answer was long and winding (hum: 'the long and winding road' by the Beatles...as you read that), and circuitous and landed on Creation. The image of God imprinted on me gives me worth. (I just saved you having to go back and read all that. You can thank me later).
But I promised a 'Part 2' to explain how that changes everything for me.
Well, you all probably know I'm pro-life. I'm also, pro-understanding-the-pro-choice-side. And for recognizing that any time a political issue is polarizing it probably boils down to overly simplifying the others position.
But the reason I'm pro-life has everything to do with my belief that the image of God is imprinted on every human being. That means the one who was born who will never speak or walk or read or hear. That means the elderly, the frail, the 'weak' of society. All human life bears God's image and is worth dignity, respect, care and love. That includes criminals, politicians, people I don't agree with. It includes gun-toting right-wingers and liberal far-left people. It means those who love God and those who hate God. It means the Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Secular Humanists who want to teach evolution. I know I'm leaving some out, but what I really want to point out is that the image of God in people changes everything - or it should.
It has changed how I parent. It has changed how I lose my temper (a lot less...because the person you're yelling at is an image-bearer of God and do you want to mar their soul by outbursts of rage that steal their dignity and disrespect the image of God in them). It has changed how I view domestic violence - both verbal and physical.
I believe it is hypocrisy for anyone who is pro-life based on Christian views (the image of God in all humans) to protest abortion and yet tolerate child abuse. It is a double standard. If churches were as passionate about spousal abuse - the denigration of the personhood of another, whether in word, action or tone, mood, violence - what-have-you - as they are about the politics of abortion, I daresay people would take the Christian message far more seriously. We proclaim a gospel that focuses solely on the redemption narrative, and forgets the very beginning: we are made in the image of God. The evangelical church focuses so much on saving the world, and for sure, it needs saving. I applaud the missionary movement - I love that people serve and give and pour their lives out to reach out in the world for good. But it saddens me that in the very churches that promote and send missionaries, there is also secrecy about domestic abuse. The fact that we promote a gospel of salvation and forget the creation account: that all people deserve dignity and respect, kindness, love and that verbal, emotional abuse exists and is harmful and damaging to the souls of people who suffer under it - this is a great sorrow to me.
Now, I know I'm stepping out on some toes here. Forgive me. But I wanted to share how the discovery of the image of God in me has radically transformed how I view myself and others. No longer do I simply take what I read in the Bible as a moral code, but rather underneath it all I see the moral code of Love.
Do I exemplify this perfectly? Do I hold myself up as a paragon of loving virtue? No, I am entirely a work in progress as I trust you are. But the key word there is 'progress'. Am I moving, growing, discovering, changing? Am I finding my inner self being renewed in the image of my Creator? This is not to create a self-evaluative to-do list. This is not to bludgeon myself with yet another, "Here's where I don't measure up." This is to invite wrestling - and to recognize that in the wrestling there lies a blessing. Jacob wrestled with God Himself, and God changed him. Forever changed him.
Every day for the rest of his earthly life (and perhaps even in his heavenly one?) Jacob's very steps were marked by that encounter with the living God. Every effortful step demonstrated his steadfast yearning for the blessing of the One Who made him. And as I walk, I feel the limp in my soul that defines my every move. Age shapes our souls. Movement becomes pained - joints stop working well. And in this is yet another invitation to ponder, to see, to know and discover the blessing of God.
Though I limp, I shall not let go until You bless me.