God as deposited in others.
Have you ever had those people in your life that you kind of write off? Not in a harsh way you just sort of dismiss them as possible friend candidates. Michael was that person in my life. He showed up in a small group I was part of at the time seemingly out of nowhere. I never met him at church, bumped into him at a party, or even ran into him at Starbucks. He was just some guy, who was fifteen years my elder, and “not very cool” in my book.
You could say I wrote Michael off. That was until a few months later when I was leading a small group of my own. I was speaking on “loving the un-lovable” . It was a good message too. Well delivered and well received, and then I began thinking about Michael. I felt like God told me I should get coffee with him and listen to his story. Me and God got into a pretty heavy discussion at this point. But I knew that if I was going to preach it I had to do it. I knew that I was judging Michael on my standards of adequate and not Gods’ definition of acceptable.
The truth is we are all created with a unique deposit of God’s image, the “Imago Dei”. So when we discount someone, what we are really saying is, “I’m sorry the God in you is not good enough for me to care”. I realized that I needed to change my lenses. I mean who am I to decide who is and is not “cool”. Let’s be honest I’m not exactly The Fonz myself.
I finally swallowed my pride and called Michael. We sat down for coffee and he told me his story. It was a beautiful story, a tough story, with parts that are still unresolved, scenes that didn’t have a romanticized happy ending with a big red bow. But Michael was living through it one day at a time trusting God and it was incredible. After that we became friends, hanging out together more regularly, and though there are times when I still find Michael a little overwhelming, I love him like a brother. Why? Because God gave me the grace to see him through Christ tinted glasses.
1 John 4
10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.
God showed his love for us in this way that He sent his son to “get our backs”. If God can do this for us we can do this for each-other. The unique deposit of Gods’ love in me can build up and care for the unique deposit of Gods’ image in you and we can, as a community begin to change the culture of what is and isn’t accepted around us. The truth is, that while we are all created with a unique set of gifts, talents, abilities and qualities; we are all viewed as equal in the kingdom of God.
10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— 11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
There will always be seemingly unlovable people in our lives. But if we are created in the image of God and the nature of God is to go after those the world leaves behind...than maybe it’s in our spirits to go after those would soon to be forgotten by society. Jesus is all about instilling value in the unlikeliest of candidates. In the kingdom, adulterers, murderers, alcoholics, and prostitutes are made heroes. The least we can do is pray that God opens our eyes to see people as he sees them. Because you can’t “love your neighbor” if you have your window boarded up, and keep a lock on the door.
One of my pastor friends is constantly reminding me that in the story of life, I AM NOT the main character. That history is HIS STORY. So if it’s not about me and it is about Him than I should be about His business. And let me tell you my Father is in one business and one business only. Loving People.