My daughter once drew me a picture communicating that her kindness, compassion, and soul beauty were all smaller reflections of me. I mention Lara’s artistic gift (which I sadly can’t find), because as I reflect on my journey, learn from others, and grow into goodness, I see clearly how I reflect what I admire, focus on, and/or give my allegiance to … and I don’t think it’d be off base to change “I” to “we”. Perhaps this is part of why we’re said to be in the image of “God”? In that who we become is strongly influenced by what we believe about life, purpose, and ultimate reality. Have you seen this in your life? I have, and today’s blog is a quick reflection on it.
Recently, within a short span of time, three politically conservative people I know, or know of, instantly, emphatically, and negatively equated the Democratic party’s move toward socialism with communism. I share this because I grew up during the Cold War, so very much was taught to believe communism was terrible, Soviets were evil, war was virtually inevitable, and the world ending with the “bang” of a nuclear war was a distinct possibility.
A bit more than 2,000 years earlier, Israel was conquered by the Roman Empire. So, when Jesus arrived on the scene, many Jews believed taxes were terrible, Romans were evil, anyone who wasn’t a Jew was sketchy at best, and violently revolting against Rome was inevitable. In many ways, the Jews were simply reflecting their understanding of the Divine: distant, exclusive, legalistic, and violent (note, they also had beautiful understandings too). What did Jesus do in this simmering cauldron of division, exclusion, and protests, with violence bubbling just beneath the surface? Doesn’t this sound a “bit” like America today?
Jesus, as God’s face to us, healed divisions, included the excluded, saw the unseen, listened to the unheard, and practiced peace. As near as I can tell from the sacred story, the Christ saved His rebukes for those who picked sides, wanted to keep others out, or sought to engage in violence (or any other dehumanizing action). Jesus displayed Divine inclusion, unity, and peace, and while I learned fear, division, and violence from the Cold War in my youth, JESUS is an image I want to reflect!
Bob Dylan sagely sang that no matter who you are, even the president, “you’re gonna have to serve somebody”. In other words, regardless of if we want to, or are aware of it, we become a reflection of our worldview, understanding of life, and/or view of the Divine. While we don’t get to choose if we serve/reflect, the good news is we do get to pick who/what we are images of … if we want!
An illuminating text I return to time and again is Galatians 5:19-23, where Paul contrasts the works of the ego (often translated “flesh”) with the fruits of the Spirit. The image we “gaze” at, is the person we become. While the “god” of our ego is weak willed, into selfish pleasures, contentious, jealous, angry, violent, divided, envious, and competitive, the Image Jesus invites us to reflect is loving, peaceful, patient, kind, generous, faithful, gentle, calm, and loyal. I find these two contrasting ways of living a super helpful tool for gauging the benefits, or lack thereof, of what I’m mirroring!
I believe you and I were created fabulous, and are meant to reflect Fabulousness. What do you admire, focus on, and/or give your allegiance to? How has/does that form you? What, if anything, would you like to change and how?
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