In The Image of God
Reggie Joiner challenged all of us at the Orange Conference in April of 2015 to ask, “what would it be like if we pictured every child/teen as someone who was created in the image of God?” I want to expand the age range and ask, “how would we treat EVERYONE we meet if we truly believed they were created in the image of Christ?”
Because the truth of the matter is that EVERYONE is created in the image of God. Even those who want nothing to do with Jesus. Even those who would ridicule the very thought that they were created in the image of God. Even those who would react with hostility to that thought. Even members of ISIS.
Because the truth of the matter is that EVERYONE is created in the image of God. Even those who want nothing to do with Jesus.
Yikes! So again, how would we treat people if we truly believed that they were created in the image of God? Well, how did Jesus treat people? This is not as simple as it may at first seem to be.
Jesus knew the heart of those with whom He interacted. We don’t have that advantage. But let’s look at a few examples of how Jesus treated people.
*In Romans 8, we see an encounter Jesus has with a Roman officer:
5 When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him,6 “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.”
7 Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”
Wait, a Roman officer? A ranking member of the occupation army? And Jesus says that He will come heal the officer’s servant? The Jewish crowd must have been up in arms over this turn of events. Jesus must have been grinning from ear-to-ear on the inside, because He knew what the officer’s response to Jesus’ offer to come heal the servant would be. Let’s pick up the story in verse 8:
8 But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. 9 I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”
Amazing faith from a non-Jew officer of the occupying army. A man created in the image of God.
*A gentile woman requesting a healing for her daughter.
Again, let’s see how the Gospel of Matthew treats this story in chapter 15:
21 Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”
Jesus does not appear to be moved by this woman’s request, and His disciples are quick to ask Him to have this Gentile leave them alone. After all, she is not the “right people” for Jesus to be bothered with.
24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”
25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”
The Disciples must have been smiling to themselves at how things are going.
26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”
YES! You tell her, Jesus. She has no business asking for Your help, Your compassion, even Your attention.
27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”
28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.
Wait a minute…what? Jesus once again is impressed with the faith of a Gentile and grants the request for healing? His closest followers still weren’t getting it. Jesus knew that this woman was created in the image of God and was, therefore, worthy of His love, mercy, grace, and healing.
*We see other examples of Jesus treating people with extra grace when society would have brushed them aside or even had them killed.
The Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, and the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8, just to name a couple. The healing of lepers, the blind, the lame, the woman with the issue of blood for 12 years are all examples of Jesus seeing people as created in the image of God.
In my next post (yeah, this is a two-part blog), we will examine the the way Jesus handled those whose whose hearts were far from God, even though the people thought they were “right” with God. Yeah, Jesus loves everybody, but there are some folks He doesn’t like very much.