Because we are all made in the image of God, everyone matters. Both believer and unbeliever alike are valuable, important, and needed in the kingdom of God. Because God doesn’t make junk, every person has meaning and significance. And that is why we should look at people—all people—as part of a “holy humanity,” created in the image of our Holy God. To be sure, sin has twisted and corrupted this image, but the image still remains. Every person bears the image of God, regardless of where they live, how they look, and what they have learned.
Think about the people Jesus hung around with. In the eyes of the “good” and “valuable” and “important” people like the Pharisees, Jesus hung around with the wrong crowd. He spent time with the dregs of society: prostitutes, tax collectors, criminals, the marginalized, and the outcasts of society. He would have lived a far more comfortable and convenient life if He had invested His time in the socially acceptable and politically correct. But He did not! He was here for the down and out, not the up and in, and He would not let the opinions of others keep Him from helping the hurting reconnect and recapture their true humanity as image bearers of the Most High God!
Only the power of the Gospel enables us to tear down walls of self-focus and self-protection, freeing us to see the image of God in every person we meet. This is what empowers us to live beyond the borders of our own lives. We begin living for the glory of God and the good of others . . . all others. We begin caring about people and for people who in no way can care about and for us. Certainly they are in no position to benefit our lives. Fredrick Buechner hits this proverbial “nail” squarely on the head in The Magnificent Defeat…
The love for equals is a human thing—of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles. The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing—the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world. The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing—to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. And then there is the love for the enemy—love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for the torturer. This is God’s love. It conquers the world.
We love because we have been loved and we serve because we have been served by the One who purchased us with His precious blood. As Jesus told His disciples, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). And don’t miss this: Jesus knew we could never pay Him back in any way for all that He did for us. For this reason …
- Our purpose is built upon His will
- Our passion is structured upon His mission
- Our potential is connected to His power.
At this level of living, every person matters to us because every person matters to God. God is in the process of making all things new, and in that process He has called us to live for something bigger than ourselves. Everything we have belongs to God; therefore we are to be using it all for the expansion of His kingdom, not our own. When we care more about what God cares about, we will care more about other people. Mercy and love will be the distinctives of our lives, and all those we touch will see a God who is both merciful and loving. We make our God attractive when we look for and acknowledge the image of God in the “holy humanity” God brings into our lives.
When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteousness. (Luke 14:12-14)
I know this all sounds so radical and counterintuitive . . . but what would you expect from such a radical Savior who profoundly talked and personally walked such a counterintuitive message?
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!