What does it mean to value the image of God in every person?
Scripture explicitly tells us that every human person is created in the image of God and set apart from the rest of creation with loving intention. We are designed to reflect our Creator in life’s most climactic moments and its most mundane rhythms. Bearing this image is not something we pursue…it is our constant state of being.
No matter what we do—or what we fail to do—God’s image is there, woven into the fabric of our person. Even in our not-yet-restored world where sin is pervasive, God’s thumbprint is visible on every human life.
Beholding God, beholding each other
To see and value this image in others, we must know what we’re looking for. And there is no better place to understand the image of God than in the presence of the One we are imaged after.
When we behold God, when our attention and affections are captivated in relationship with Him, a natural overflow occurs. We begin to pay attention to those around us, seeing traits, desires, and gifts that remind us of our Creator. We start seeing God’s handiwork everywhere we look. In a conversation with our best friend. A conflict with our worst enemy. An awkward first interaction with someone altogether foreign to us.
Beholding God allows us to truly see the dignity in everyone’s humanity. We can then begin loving our communities by paying attention both to the places of beauty and the thorns of suffering. And suddenly, the rich theology we’ve cultivated in God’s presence has become the platform on which we stand for life.
So what exactly are we reflecting?
Observe any created thing for long enough, and you’ll realize that God is a master of intricacy. Even the simplest of things are composed of countless, carefully considered particles. Nothing is monotonous. Everything is glorious. And it all points to the divine details of God’s own nature.
God is beautifully complex. His goodness, holiness, and wisdom are beyond our finite comprehension. He can relate to us on an infinite number of wavelengths and in an infinite number of ways. There is always more glorious territory to explore in His presence, always an opportunity to go deeper.
This divine complexity is reflected in every human life. We are physical, spiritual, relational, and emotional beings that house a wide range of thoughts, emotions, values, memories, desires, wounds…
As His image bearers, we are reflecting the Creator’s glorious yet complex nature. Valuing every person means embracing their complexity with Christlike love. Standing for life requires us to love the whole person, not just the aspects of them that we approve of.
Valuing God’s image consistently
It is easy to value the image of God in some while choosing not to in others. It requires very little to prefer people who are similar to us. Those who uphold our ways of seeing the world make us comfortable.
But nothing a person says, does, or stands for changes the reality that they reflect the Creator of the universe. No matter how marred by sin, their design points to God.
Even someone you dislike, or a person who continually offends you must be seen as knit together by God Himself. They too require a love beyond our finite capability. The image of God found in every human life challenges us to view and interact with others as valuable. In Christ’s Kingdom, there are no exceptions.
As we apply this belief to our day-to-day lives, our circles broaden to include people we could’ve never imagined. People different from us that God loves and asks us to care for. This allows us to learn to warmly welcome those who enter our lives unexpectedly as possibly sent by God. We may also grow unsatisfied with echo chambers that champion our own opinions and preferences. Then we can begin building bridges with people by inviting them into our homes, learning about them as individuals, and engaging in honest conversations. This is even possible with fellow image bearers that we would disagree with.
At Stand For Life, we believe that affirming and defending life means involving ourselves in the complicated mess of humanity and loving people not for what they do but for who they are. It all starts with searching for and beholding God’s awe-inspiring image in every human life.