Archives For image of God

I love movies. Jeff’s reference to Open Range in his blog last week was a wonderful reminder of why I love movies. When done well,  I love the stories they tell. Interestingly enough, I recently showed that same movie, Open Range, to a group of guys at my church. After watching the movie, we spent about 45 minutes discussing what we witnessed as we entered the world of the old west for the previous 2 hours.

The conversation was rich and engaging. Guys just seem to connect with films. They see the good in men that they’d like to model their lives after. They see the bad that they need to avoid or fight against. They see how both the heroes and the villains treat the women in their lives. The complex issues that are played out in the telling of a good story are the same complex issues that men face in one way or another every day.

What I’ve discovered is that men tend to talk about areas where they struggle as men more easily after having watch a movie that exposes some of those struggles in the men whose story they’ve just experienced vicariously.

One of the comments that the men picked up on in Open Range came from a scene in a saloon. After two of his partners were brutally bushwacked, one murdered and the other clinging to life by a thread, Charlie Waite and Boss Spearman went into town to set things right.

Charlie Waite, the civil war sniper turned gun-hand turned free-grazing cowboy, challenged the townsmen for refusing to stand up to the evil cattle baron who ruled the town with an iron fist and owned the local Sheriff. They saw what was wrong, but they felt powerless to change it.

One of the men responded to Charlie’s challenge: “What? Me and my boys, we’re freighters. Ralph here is a shop keeper. What can we do?”

Charlie’s response was simple but clear: “You’re men ain’t cha?”. After expressing their fear of dying, he followed up with, “You may not know this, but there are some things that naw at a man worse than dying.”

What Charlie’s cowboy wisdom exposed was the tendency for men to confuse who they are with what they do. I hear that so often out of the mouths of men that I work with. “I’m a carpenter, doctor, plumber, salesman,  or engineer.” We men often hem ourselves in with a description of who we are as defined by what we do for a living. Don’t believe me? How many times have you seen a man lose his job and he doesn’t know who he is any more. Who are we without our work? We don’t know. And that’s why many men experience an identity crisis when they no longer are doing what they’re used to doing. They feel lost. They don’t know who they are as men.

(By the way, while this post focuses on men’s struggles, women tend to do the same thing, it just looks different. Women often identify themselves with the roles they play or the relationships they have: mother, housewife, nurse, lawyer, waitress, or manager. This is even more true as women continue to pursue careers outside of the home. Forgetting who we are is not an exclusive domain of men. It just tends to seep to the surface more obviously in men.)

God made men (and women) in his image (Genesis 1:26-27). We forget that timeless truth that has been true from the very beginning. We are male image-bearers or female image-bearers. There are no image bearers that are gender neutral. We’re either men or women, male or female.

The townsmen in Open Range forgot that they were men first . That’s who they were. What they did for a living, while important, was a distant second. And when men lose site of who they are, they live controlled by fear. And the Bible describes that as  a loss of heart.

So, today, who are you? Have you forgotten that you’re a man  (or woman) made in God’s image and worthy of love and respect because of who you are? Remember. Don’t forget.

I saw God today

Tim Jackson —  January 29, 2010 — 3 Comments

Okay. I confess that I’m a fan of country music. I like a lot of different genres of music, but one of the things I like about country music are the stories told in the lyrics. There’s something powerful about a story.

So, why am I telling you this?

Well, George Strait sings one song, “I Saw God Today” that captures the idea that I wanted to write about. The lyrics of the chorus are:

I’ve been to church
I’ve read the book
I know He’s here, but I don’t look
near as often as I should
Yeah, I know I should
His fingerprints are everywhere
I’d just slow down to stop and stare
opened my eyes and man I swear
I saw God today

This song came to mind as I’ve seen and heard the media covering the horrors from the earthquake in Haiti. The images broadcast around the world are tragic and disturbing scenes that we’ve come to expect from catastrophic movies. But this time it’s real. The level of human suffering and devastation is beyond comprehension for any who are not there and overwhelming for those who are.

But darkness and devastation are not the only things we’ve witnessed.

These stories of human tragedy are co-mingled with the stories of the Herculean efforts of so many medical and emergency responders from all over the globe. They’ve dropped everything and flew in from all points of the globe to rescue a tiny island in desperate need. They are tirelessly pouring themselves into the task of saving lives shattered by this earthquake.

What is so amazing is that even the darkest hours of human trauma cannot eclipse the radiance of the outpouring of compassion of these everyday heroes for these precious souls whose lives have been so savagely disrupted by pain and grief. Loss is everywhere. Yet, it’s against this grotesque backdrop of human suffering that the brilliance of the tenderness of God’s image in human compassion is center stage for all the world to see.

It’s the image of God in both the sufferer and the rescuer that binds us together (Gen. 1:26-27). Otherwise, compassion would make no sense. Why are our hearts moved with compassion? It’s the image of God still deeply embedded within the veil of every human heart. That’s why we long to soothe the sufferings of others. Whether one believes in God or not, doesn’t matter. The reality of God  is evident in this outpouring of tenderness and compassion for others that feels natural and good. And that kind of goodness can only be explained in terms of God.

It’s the reflection of God in us that necessitates that we can’t stand by and just watch the suffering. And for those who are followers of Christ Jesus, it’s the “love of Christ” that compels us (2 Cor. 5:14) and calls us to participate in rescuing the perishing and caring for the dying “because  in this world we are like Him” (1 John 4:17).

So what are you doing to reflect God in a world that desperately needs to “see Him?” Maybe you can’t go, but maybe you can help. How? Pray. And then give to an organization with feet at ground zero in Haiti that can make a difference so that people who need a reason to hope will “see God today.”

One of those groups it Baptist Haiti Mission. They have a hospital on their mission compound just outside of Port au Prince that’s been running 24/7 since the earthquake. Check them out at www.bhm.org and maybe others will “see God in you today.”

Honor . . .

Tim Jackson —  August 25, 2009 — 1 Comment

Honor. Now that’s a term we don’t hear much about these days. It seems to be an antiquated idea from a bygone era. But I heard the term yesterday as I listened to the local news carry the story of a young corporal who lost his life while serving in Afghanistan. He was a son and great grandson of one of our ministry families here at RBC. His body returned home five days ago. The local news stated that he will be buried “with full military honors” today.

Honor guard

Honor guard

Honor. My mind flashed back 10 years to the images of a flag draped coffin with a military honor guard at a little country cemetery in West Michigan. Family friends had lost a son while serving on active duty in the Navy. What I witnessed that day brought tears to my eyes then and now as I remember the “honor” these fellow soldiers gave to a fallen one of their own.

What impressed me was the care, the time, the attention to detail, and the respect that the “honor guard” displayed not only for their lost brother in arms, but also for the family who had made the ultimate sacrifice of their son in the service of their country. The compassion, tenderness, respect, and strength that was given to the grieving family was nothing short of beautiful.

What still impresses me today is the obvious weightiness of an irreplaceable human being that this kind of honor demonstrates. Would that we honored one another in life like the military community honors one of their own in death.  We so easily forget that every soul carries weight. Why? Because we forget that we bear the image of the weighty God of the universe (Gen. 1:26-27). In the flurry of activities of our everyday lives and in the barrage of distractions that clamor for every scrap of our attention, we often forget the weight that we each bear. C. S. Lewis called it “the weight of glory.” Flawed as we all are, nevertheless, we are still marked by the weight of His glorious image.

I saw a flash of glory today in the honor given to a fallen soldier. It reminded me that we would all do well to take time each day to genuinely look one another in the eye and give each one that we meet–whether family, friend, or foe–the honor that is due to one who bears the immeasurable weight of our Creator’s glory–“For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Who are you?

Jeff Olson —  August 3, 2009 — 8 Comments

PassportCertain songs tend to stay with and get me to thinking. Lately, I’ve been struck by the following lyrics from an older song,

“Who are you? Who, who…who, who?

The words strike me as more than a line from a catchy tune by the British band The Who. The lyrics actually raise a core question-do we know who we really are?

It’s an important question. And answering it is not as simple as rattling off the basic information found on our passport—name, address, etc. There’s a lot more to us.

For instance, the opening pages of the Bible tell us that we bear the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). The Bible also tells us that “we are God’s offspring” (Acts 17:28). In other words, who we are is wrapped up in being one of God’s kids. And those of His offspring, who have found forgiveness and restoration through Jesus Christ, can learn to walk in the peace and the joy and the purpose of a new life in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Reading what the Bible says about us is truly good news. And I wish it were that simple. The problem is there are other destructive messages that come to us in various ways that compete with some of the things we read about ourselves in the pages of Scripture. As we’ve gone through life in a broken world, we’ve all heard lies that cause us to doubt who we really are; false messages that say we’re nothing or unwanted; half-truths that seduce us into believing there is something deeply flawed and unredeemable in us.

So…who are you? What are the messages you’ve heard? A lot is riding on the answers we end up with. If we don’t know what God really thinks of us, we will continue to live far less than who He intended us to be.