So God created mankind in his own image; in the image of God he created them.
We are created in the image of the triune God. You, me, and every other person.
How amazing is that, when you truly think about it? Us, made in the image of the Creator!
God is holy, perfect, so far beyond our understanding that John struggled to put what he had seen into words: “His eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” (Revelation 1:14-16)
Elsewhere in scripture, people who have seen but a glimpse of God proclaim the likes of “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips…and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!” (Isaiah 6:5).
And yet, somehow, we are created in the image of God. Not just me, not just you, but all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ. My sister in Southeast Asia, a talented farmer, concerned with how she’ll feed her beautiful family if she can’t secure a market rate for her harvest. My Haitian brother, an innovative entrepreneur, concerned with how vulnerable his soon-to-be teenage son is to a gang... And me. All created in the image of God.
Yet, why is it so hard for me to elevate the call to serve the poor to the highest level of urgency in my life? I’m ashamed to admit it, but unless I’m very intentional, I struggle to comprehend the reality of our sisters and brothers facing poverty.
I suspect that’s true for most of us.
Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.
I struggle to look beyond the numbers to connect a statistic to a person, a fellow image bearer, that I know and am willing to love. When I look at the numbers, I struggle to see the face, heart, and life of another person, to see a family, or a child. And if I’m honest, even when I’m able to do that, it’s still hard to make it personal because for me, even for me, I can (and often do) choose to avert my gaze—the gaze of my eyes, and more often, my heart. And I’m very good at justifying those choices.
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
1 John 3:17
Poverty is a violent and terrible thing. It can steal your very life. The vulnerability it breeds can enslave your children and traffic your young daughter. It can steal the sustenance from your table and sap the nutrition your children need, even stealing their minds in their early years. It can scrape away at your sense of dignity as a person and leave you feeling hopeless.
To be created in the image of God is not something that is earned, gained, or developed. It simply is. No matter who you are, rich or poor, we are all of us made in the image of God. And we need each other. If we are to be the body of Christ as God ordained it, how could we do nothing while our brothers and sisters experience these daily struggles and horrible vulnerabilities?
Those who despise their neighbors are sinners, but happy are those who are kind to the poor.
The call to serve the poor is Biblically sound and it is urgent. It’s the reason for our very existence at Partners Worldwide, and it informs everything we do.
You remind us of this call too. The global PW network is filled with people and partnerships that use redemptive business models to reveal the image of God in countless ways, restore brokenness, end poverty and point people to life in Christ. And that is why I’m so thankful to call you a friend and partner. You, with your daily affirmation of the urgency of this calling, encourage me. Thank you.
This is the first of a series of reflections in which we’ll unpack what it means to be created in the image of God, the implications for our call to serve the poor, the pursuit of the end poverty and redemptive business.
I look forward to diving into the hard questions we ask each other every day, unpacking the Biblical roots and urgency of our calling, and sharing some incredibly redemptive stories from around the world.
Until then, blessings.