I am working through the concept of "Loving People" for a series that we are starting in our church over the next few weeks as part 2 of our vision/mission movements through spiritual formation. This week, I want to talk about Sacrificial Love and the Imago Dei. We are the Beloved. We are greatly loved by God and we are loved sacrificially, without deserving it. The love of God to us in Christ actually costs God something – it cost Him His Son. True love – Agape Love – is love that costs. We have been lavished with love from God and that love actually changes us. It restores us to who we were created to be. It recognizes the Imago Dei – the "Image of God" upon each of us (Genesis 1:26-28). Because we are made in God's image and because He has come after us to rescue us and restore us to Himself, we are freed from all that keeps us from living as creatures who bask in God's glory. We are all far more than we think we are.
CS Lewis, when dealing with this concept in The Weight of Glory says this:
"It is a serious thing," says Lewis, "to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no 'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whome we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously — no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner — no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment."
This is exciting and sobering at the same time. The waitress who frustrated me because she was slow on my order; the mechanic who didn't fix my car the way I wanted; my child's teacher who did not perform to my expectations; my children, my spouse, my co-workers and friends – all of these people are made in the Image of God and are dearly loved by Him. To fail to see them as God sees them – with incredible worth, potential, and an eternal destiny awaiting them of great splendor or unspeakable horror – is to fail to rightly value them as I should and thus, to fail to love them at all. Furthermore, to not value the creation as I should is also to not worship the Creator correctly as well. How I value and treat others says everything about how I see and worship, and yes, love God.
1 John 2:9-11
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.
May we walk in the light and see one another rightly.