BY AMY WALTON |
Here we are, right in the middle of our Lenten journey, and I have a question to ask you:
How’s your heart?
We are in the holiest season of the church year, the forty-day journey to the cross and resurrection, and our hearts should be changing. I know my own heart needs to change because although I intentionally nurture my faith and relationship with the Lord daily, I always fall short in my Christian walk, especially in my thoughts and words.
Here’s a truth to grasp: We are created in God’s image, just like every other human being over the course of time.
In Genesis 1:27, we read that God created mankind in His image:
“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them
male and female he created them.” –Genesis 1:27
Think about that: You are created in God’s image. I am created in God’s image. That person you love is created in God’s image. That person who sometimes causes you to bristle or even explode is created in God’s image. We are all sinners, but we are made in His image!
What does that mean to you, and how can this truth—if we fully absorb it— change our hearts this Lenten season to love, to abstain from judging, to truly live in a spirit of love and to root down in the truth that we and every other human are created in God’s image?
Of course, when God made humans, His plan was for us to be perfect. Unfortunately, as we know, that plan didn’t go as planned! Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and perfection disappeared.
And many years later, Jesus, the Son of God, entered the world as an infant, giving us His teachings by which to live and taking on our sins as He was nailed to a cross.
It can be difficult for us to consider ourselves as created in the likeness of God. Hopefully, we are aware of our failings and sinful nature; but during Lent, we may be more cognizant than usual when it comes to our wrongdoings. Seeing ourselves—and others—as reflections of God can be quite the challenge.
When the apostle James wrote about the tongue, he mentioned that we use it to praise God and to curse human beings who—as he adds—are made in God’s likeness… just like us.
Ouch. Sound familiar?
We—the image bearers of God—are also sinners who judge, belittle, curse, and do harm to others who are created in His image.
It’s not right that we who are the reflections of the Almighty tear down another person who is also fashioned in God’s image.
How can we correct this during this heart-changing season?
Rooting down in the truth of our being image bearers can take time and can challenge us for our entire lives.
Me? Sinful me? Created in God’s image?
And that neighbor who always turns her head when I smile and wave… she’s created in God’s image?
Here’s an idea:
Go back and read Genesis 1:27 and substitute your name or the pronoun “me” where the scripture reads “mankind” or “them.” Read that over and over, using your name or “me.”
Next, look in a mirror and say, “I am created in God’s image. I am made in the image of God.”
Think about that and ask yourself how you can change your life this Lent and live the truth of your being made in the image of your Heavenly Father. Journal about it.
Once you feel fairly grounded as an image bearer, think about a couple people whom you find difficult or just really don’t care to be around. I suggest someone you personally know along witha national or international figure, such as a government leader or celebrity. Hold their faces in your mind and think about how they—just like you—are created in God’s image. Like you, they have their own stories, challenges, hurts, and yes… sins.
Go back to Genesis 1:27 and insert their names.
So much of what we ponder during Lent has to do with others: How we’ve treated them through our actions, words, and missed opportunities for good purposes. We may be repentant as to how we’ve treated ourselves, too, through poor habits, poor choices, and other types of self-abuse.
By really owning that we are made in God’s image and that everyone else is, too, maybe we can truly change our hearts to live in a spirit of greater love, without judgment, and without condemnation.
It likely won’t happen overnight, but it’s a start.
And Lent is the perfect time to start.
We are created in God’s image. Others are created in His image.
Let’s transform ourselves this Lent into the image bearers of God that we are and shine our love on all the image bearers in front of us. It won’t be easy, but with daily meditation on this truth, we can truly be transformed into the image of our Creator.
And that can change our hearts.
About the author
Amy Walton is a certified life coach, certified Christian life coach, speaker, and writer who has lived in coastal Virginia for nearly 30 years. A native of Mayodan, North Carolina, she was baptized, confirmed, and raised in Mayodan Moravian Church, where she remains an Associate Member. Connect with her at www.HolyGrounding.com or [email protected].
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