"Every person bears God's image."
How many times have you heard this? And in what situations?
If you're like me, you've heard it most often related to the challenging people in our lives. It's the words we hear when we're finding a person in our lives difficult to love.
And it is true. Even though it's marred, we still reflect the image of God because we were made in His image at creation.
But, it's not exactly what we want to hear when we're in that situation. It's usually the last thing we want to hear, or are in a position to really hear.
But, even when it's hard to hear, and even more difficult to believe, that doesn't change the truth. And, in those situations, when we hold onto that truth, it can change the way we look at the other person, and the way we treat them.
Let's think about it for ourselves first. We know we've been made in the image of God. We also know that we sin and we don't always do a very good job of reflecting that image of God in us to the world around us. Our sin mars the image of God in it. We can't see it clearly and others can't see it clearly in us. But it's still there and there are still glimpses of it.
Going back to the people we find challenging in our lives - that same thing that's true about us is also true about that person. In some people it's far more difficult to see the image of God that was stamped onto all humanity at creation, than in others. But, it is there in all people.
And when it gets to someone who is close to us in relationship and we spend more time with, it can be even more difficult when they become the person around us who is hard to love. That's when it becomes really important that we remember the truth that all humanity was created in the image of God. We need to pay attention to the glimpses of it that we can still see.
Remembering that, holding onto it, looking for the glimpses of it - that changes the way we pray for that person, the way we interact with them. It doesn't mean we accept words and actions that cause harm to us or others we need to protect. But, it does mean that even when we need to remove ourselves from a person, we pray remembering that, however marred it has become by sin, this person has the image of God stamped on them.
It's not easy. I've been learning just how difficult this is, and how powerful it is to think and pray this way. To interact with a challenging person while keeping this in my mind. Honestly, it keeps me praying, even when things are difficult.
Do you have a person in your life who is hard to love? What would happen if you began looking for glimpses of the image of God stamped on them and allowed that to influence your prayers for them and interactions with them?