Since humanity’s earliest days, we’ve been dividing ourselves by language, by culture, by wealth, by politics, by tribe, and yes, sadly – by skin color.
These divisions aren’t supposed to define our relationships or our societies. At least, they don’t have to.
You see, God made all people as one blood to live together as His children forever. He designed human DNA with capacity for almost endless diversity and individuality, which we are supposed to be celebrating and enjoying. Even more, He created us to love and to be loved by one another, as an everlasting human family.
The unity of this family is not just found in a celebration of our diversity, or in learning how to get along despite our differences. There may be plenty about diversity to affirm, and plenty of differences to accept – and we can do that – but there’s something MUCH deeper – something that pre-dates all our potential dividing lines. Something that binds us together as a human race.
Consider this: WHY we were created, HOW we were created, and WHAT we were created to be was set in motion before our cultures, our career choices, our creeds, our colors, or our tribal designations.
You and I, and every human being, have been made in God’s image.
That means your soul – your ability to love and to choose, your capacity for vision and creativity and morality, your thirst for freedom and justice – your spiritual identity – is MORE YOU than any other factor. Whether your great-grandparents come from Denmark or Zambia, Indonesia or Argentina; whether you’re rich, poor, or in the middle; whether you speak Arabic or Japanese or English – you are the image of God FIRST – before you are any other characteristic.
So, here’s a challenge for us when we see a person – any person: let’s commit to recognizing WHO they are before obsessing about what they look like, what they believe, or even about the choices they make.
What would our world look like if we chose to see #ImageFirst? More enriching, exciting, colorful, diverse, and optimistic for sure!
From there, our unity, reconciliation, restoration, justice, friendship, respect, and next steps toward cultural healing all flow naturally. Fixing all that’s gone wrong won’t be easy, but we’re one choice away from moving in the right direction: the choice to love and appreciate the image of God in others.
#ImageFirst is the reason we’re told to treat others as we wish to be treated; to love our neighbors, and in fact, to even love our enemies. Because when we see each other in truth, as God sees us, everything about our perspective changes. We look at each other and we see value, we see soul, we see potential, we see conscience, we see eternity – we see an image, of God!
After you’ve seen that, can you really hate a person? Can you really mistreat, persecute, oppress, or belittle? Or remain angry, bigoted, or prejudiced toward them, just based on how they look, or on what their ancestors did? Can you really maintain bitterness, selfishness, or arrogance when you see the image of God in every other face you meet?
That’s why as a Christian I can actually see the end of racism right at the beginning of the Bible. And I can also see it in the next choice you make, the next thought you think – to recognize WHO God made us to be, and what He has called all of us to become.
Maybe you could join me in hash-tagging #ImageFirst to help cast this vision, and to remind people of who we all really are?