Pastor's Blog

Seeing the Image of God in Others

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WE SEE VERY early in the story of the Bible that man is created in the image of God.  In the story of Creation we read in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”   

So . . . what difference does it make knowing that everyone you meet is created in the image of God? 

Well for starters, we learn that every life is of value.  This is the basis for the sanctity of human life.  After Noah and his family come out of the ark, God warns them against the taking of another human life.  Why is that a capital offense?  Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”    

 Therefore, we speak up for the unborn.  Psalm 139:13-16 celebrates how the image of God is stamped upon every human being at conception.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 

From Noah’s story, we also learn how every family can trace their lineage back to Noah. In Genesis 9:19, after mentioning the three sons of Noah it says, “and from these the people from the whole earth were dispersed.” 

Therefore, we speak up for racial justice.  The Bible does not speak of different races; instead, it speaks of one race: the human race.  So, when Gensis 1:27 tells us that God created man in his own image he was referring to all human beings.  Our fellow human being is our brother and our sister, no matter what color of skin they may have or what country they come from.  Because they are created in the image of God their concern becomes our concern.   

Finally, the fact that every human being is made in the image of God governs how we treat people and talk about people.  Jesus said in Sermon on the Mount that whoever insults his brother by calling him a fool or an idiot is guilty of the same kind of disregard for human life that is found in murdering someone (Matthew 5:21-23). 

Therefore, we speak with kindness to one another, even our enemy.  Why?  Why would I speak kindly to someone who is my enemy?  James gives us the reason why in James 3:9.  Having acknowledged that the tongue is a restless evil, full of deadly poison, he goes on to say: “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” 

So . . . what difference does it make knowing that everyone you meet is created in the image of God? 

 It makes a huge difference!   

 It makes us speak up for the vulnerable. 

It makes up speak up for justice. 

It makes us speak with kindness. 

May we all see the value of every individual and treat them as precious to God. 

A New Year’s Attitude Resolution

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A New Year’s Attitude Resolution

PERHAPS WE ARE so excited to leave 2020 behind us that we haven’t given much thought as to how to approach 2021. Psalm 90 helps us do just that.

Psalm 90 is a psalm that captures the fleeting nature of time. It describes our lives as being like grass which is “renewed in the morning” and yet,“in the evening if fades and withers.”  Or as verse 10 testifies,“The years of our life are seventy or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone and we fly away.”  So, given the seemingly quickening pace of the passing of time, how should we approach 2021?

I would like to suggest we consider making A New Year’s Attitude Resolution.

Receive 2021 with an Attitude of Gratitude
Psalm 90:1-2 says:                        

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or even you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Here we are reminded of the eternal nature of God. God is the one who formed the earth and the world. God is the one constant in this world from everlasting to everlasting. Therefore, every day you receive in 2021 is a gift from God. And even if there are some hard days ahead for you in the coming year, you are comforted with the reminder that God has always been our dwelling place.  God has always been our comfort and refuge during the storms of life and so with confidence we know that God will continue to be our present help in times of trouble. Receive each day this year with gratitude.

Approach 2021 with an Attitude of Humility
Psalm 90:3-4 says:

3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!”
4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday
when it is past
or as a watch in the night.

This contrast between God and man is a reminder to us of how fragile we really are compared to God. We are dependent creatures, while God alone is independent. This very same reminder is given in Ecclesiastes 12:7, “and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”  So, what is the lesson in all of this? A few verses later in Ecclesiastes 12:13 we read, “The end of the matter, all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”  In other words, life is to be humbly lived under the good rule of God.  Approach each day this year with humility.

Live 2021with an Attitude of Wisdom
Psalm 90:12, 17 says:

12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.

17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us,
yes, establish the work of our hands.

In view of the fleeting nature of time, this verse encourages us to make the most of what we have been given. Since our days are numbered and each day is precious, we should use them wisely.  How so? We should make the most of our time by fully investing ourselves in people and in the work we are called to do. Paul says it this way in Colossians 3:17 and 23, “And whatever you do, in word or deed do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him…Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”  All of life is sacred, so make the most of it and whatever you do, do it unto God. Live each day this year with wisdom.

Embrace 2021 with an Attitude of Joy
Psalm 90:14-15 says,


14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.

The knowledge of God’s love for us fills us with joy and makes us glad all our days. We are reminded of the all-satisfying love of God in Psalm 103:2-5. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  Because of Jesus and his death on the cross for our sins, we ought to be marked with a deep inner joy that cannot be overcome by the circumstances in life. Remember, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Embrace each day this year with joy.

May your year be received with gratitude, approached with humility, lived with wisdom and embraced with joy. Happy New Year!

A Few Words About the Election

GOOD GOVERNMENT IS important, I think we can all agree to that. Countries are greatly impacted by those who occupy seats of power and by the policies they establish to govern the people. 

When preparing Israel for the day when they too would have a king to rule over them, Moses instructs them in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 to be careful to choose rulers who don’t use their power to accumulate riches for themselves. Instead, he urges them to look for someone whose heart is not lifted up above his brothers. Humility is an important trait for those who govern.

Coming off a contentious election year, I am reminded that while good government is important, it is not ultimate. Rather, it points us to what is ultimate.

Continuing to reflect on Caroline Cobb’s article 2020 Has Felt Like Advent All YearI am reminded how the unfulfilled longing we have for good governance ultimately points us to the one of whom it is said, and the government shall be upon his shoulders.

Consider this reflection from Cobb’s article: “The presidential election divided our country, churches, and families, and many Christians feel politically homeless. Oh, that this feeling of exile would remind us that our citizenship is in heaven, our King is Jesus, and our platform is his kingdom! May our current political climate stir up a deeper longing for the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace who will uphold his kingdom with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.”

A few words about the election . . .

I can resonate with the ache Cobb expresses of feeling “politically homeless.” Often when voting, the decision before us seems to be “choosing the lesser of two evils.” It is an honest assessment of the imperfections we find in every leader and every political party. It can leave us feeling “homeless” when it comes to our political affiliation.

Honestly, I do not think this is a bad place to be. Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 2:11 that we are sojourners and exiles. Our citizenship is in heaven and our King is Jesus. That is what is ultimate. And furthermore, this helps us look honestly at both Republicans and Democrats – objectively identifying strengths and weaknesses, resisting the temptation of demonizing the one and deifying the other.

Secondly, this does not mean that the ideals of government are not important and that we should not bother with such things. It is important and we are blessed to live in a country where we can express our voice and get involved. 

When Isaiah 9 speaks of the increase of his government, namely the reign of Jesus, he characterizes it as an increase in peace. At the very least, then, when we think of human government, we ought to be praying for peace and for those things that promote peace, justice, and righteousness. We should pray to this end for our leaders and we should contribute to this goal through living quiet lives.

Finally, this longing in our hearts for good governance is there because it truly exists. But it is a longing that only Jesus can fulfill. Someday, there will be peace – shalom in all of God’s creation.  And it will be lasting. No more elections. No more candidates making promises they can’t fulfill.  But there is a government and a coming peace that will have no end. Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!

“May our current political climate stir up a deeper longing for the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace who will uphold his kingdom with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.”

What Child is this, who laid to rest, on Mary's lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping? This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing. Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the Babe, the Son of Mary.

 

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