My friends and I were walking to our cars after a wedding when a man approached us. Toothless and unkempt, reeking of body odor, his faced caked with dirt, his clothes grimy and torn, the old homeless man smiled. Then he reached his hand out, not for money, but to shake someone’s hand and feel the warmth of another person.
My friend, Nancy, grabbed his hand, shook it compassionately, and gave him a wad of bills. Next, he came to me. As his hand reached out to me, I turned the other way. How could I have done that? How could I?
The destitute man and I, both molded and patterned by God are equals in God’s eyes. Yet the man’s cordiality and my cruelty showed two different hearts: one filled with love, the other with contempt.
Nancy, a friend whom I believed didn’t go to church showed God’s love, mercy, and grace to the derelict, while I pulled my hand away. She knew more about loving a distasteful person than me.
No wonder some people want nothing to do with Christians and think they are hypocritical. Looking back on this incident, I cringe. In the meantime, I’ve learned to be grateful for the details of creation because they give me hope. Knowing that God created my in his image, motivates me to show friendliness and respect to people like the homeless man because of what I learned when I first read Genesis 1:26-27.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Notice the pronouns “us” and “our.” I read the passage several times and a thought occurred to me, “They were all there—the process was more complicated than I thought …
Astonished, it occurred to me that all three watched me rebel those many years ago, and their collaborative work had challenged and changed me to be different. Now I try to look at all people as God’s created beings who’ve simply lost their way, just like me. Choosing empathy and love over apathy and hate gives us the ability to view others as beautiful despite the brokenness of the world.
Sadly, Nancy, my friend, passed away recently. The world has lost a kind, loving soul.
Next Time: God Has Commissioned Us to Present His Image to the World