This morning I had what an alcoholic might call a moment of clarity. It’s so interesting how God chooses to speak to us sometimes, and how our minds, and hearts and souls are awakened to his truth.
This is what happened today.
I was nearly out of gas, so I stopped at the Circle K on 24th Street and Avenue B to gas up and get my daily dose of caffeine (in the form of a 44-ounce Coke Zero). While I was walking from the gas pumps to the door, a beat up little Toyota hatchback pulled up right in front of the doors and two men got out.m
They were wearing some kind of coveralls, but looked like they came straight out of the exercise yard at Chino. Both men were extremely muscular and had braids halfway down their backs. They had tattoos peeking out of their sleeves and collars, and definitely had the intimidating look down perfectly.
One of the men went directly inside, and the other just sort of stood out front. He gave me a barely perceptible nod as I walked past him to go in. I immediately thought they were going to rob the place.
I went over to the soda machine and there was convict number one. He was filling a 44 ounce cup to the very brim with Blue Raspberry Icee.
He paid his .88 cents right before I did, then the two men got in the beat up Toyota and went on their way.
On my way to work I heard this song:
A line from the chorus stuck in my head: there could never be a more beautiful you.
What occurred to me was those
men at the Circle K were beautiful to God. With their tattoos and muscles and braids, they were beautiful to God.
Then these things occurred to me:
1. If they were beautiful to God, that meant I was beautiful to him, too. Even with my scars, and messed up skin, and pelt of hair I am beautiful to God.
2. I was made in his image, according to Genesis. So were the guys at Circle K.
3. Just because I do not always see beauty in things does not mean it isn’t there.
What does it mean to be made in the image of Christ? As usual, I went online and I found this definition:
“…The term Imago Dei (Latin for Image of God) refers most fundamentally to two things: first, God’s own self-actualization through humankind; and second, God’s care for humankind. To say that humans are in the image of God is to recognize the special qualities of human nature which allow God to be made manifest in humans…”
To me that suggests that our outer image really doesn’t matter that much, at least not to the extent we think it does. Certainly not to the extent by which we judge others, and judge beauty.
With that in mind, I think how we treat others–least of these or otherwise–is how we reflect either our image of God or our image of ourselves.
Put another way, If we treat people like crap it’s often because we feel that we ourselves are worthy of the same. Consequently we judge people based on our image of ourselves whether it be negative or positive, and we treat them according to our self-based perception.
I thought the men at Circle K were thugs because they fit into a thug-shaped box in my tiny little brain. Maybe some people see me and feel I fit into a box, too?
I was wrong, and they’re wrong, too.
I can’t say that I’ve ever felt like a standard bearer for Christ. It doesn’t matter. If I bear his name then I bear his image, too.
I need to pray for clearer vision, and truth in my perception of others. I need to act with imago Dei in mind, not imago Tom.