What does the term “created in the image of God” really mean?
We know it originates from Genesis 1 where the Bible says this in verse 27: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
It doesn’t mean physically we look like God since we know God is Spirit, not flesh from John 4:24. So we can probably conclude that the image of God more accurately describes our intended reflection of God in things like caring, love, patience, selflessness and…compassion. God exhibits all of these characteristics and we should too.
If there is one thing I’ve learned as I study the example of Jesus and as we pursue Choosing Compassion in 2013, it’s that the best way to grow your capacity and desire for compassion is to hang out with two kinds of people – those who are hurting and those who inspire you
They inspire me to care more, to love more, to give more, to do more.
Even though you haven’t met them in person, I’ll bet there’s someone like them near you right now.
I hope you’ll focus this year on taking the time to choose compassion. And then see what happens.
The first person I want to introduce you to is My Nguyen (in the photo).
We met her on the streets of Saigon a few nights back. I didn’t even see My (pronounced Me) at first as we passed her by because she was sitting on the concrete, up against a wall in the darkness as hundreds of busy people walked by. But Ngu noticed her and after we had walked another 50 yards, he suddenly stopped and said, “Did you see that woman back there?’
Of course, my response was, “Which one?”
He replied, “the old lady sitting in the dark. I feel like I should go back and talk to her.”
Having see this urging in others and myself many times before, I recognized it for what it was. “Ngu, that’s the Holy Spirit telling you to go back. Let’s go.”
We went back and Ngu began a conversation with her. My is 87 years old and living alone on the streets of this city of 10 million people. She had a bathroom scale sitting next to her and Ngu explained to me that she told him this is how she makes a little money everyday. For the equivalent of about 10 cents, people step on her scale and get their weight. She obviously hadn’t been very busy this day.
Ngu asked her in Vietnamese if he could go get her some food. She quietly said she wasn’t really hungry but she was very thirsty. We gave her a large bottle of water, she took a big swallow and thanked us for it.
As we asked more questions we learned that My had no close family; she had been a widow for 47 years! Although she never said how her husband had died, that timeline put his death right in the middle of the war.
She told us she had some relatives but hadn’t seen them in years.
I spoke with her softly through Ngu’s translation and asked her if she knew Jesus loved her. She smiled and said she was a Buddhist, but it’s ok because she prays whenever she passes the Catholic church. I tried to explain to her about Jesus being the way, the truth and the life and she politely explained that I shouldn’t worry, she was respectful of all religions.
After 20 minutes of sitting in the dark with her, we did all we could. We gave her some extra cash, then each held one of her hands and prayed with her.
As we left I couldn’t help thinking through glassy eyes, “This woman has been a widow for almost half a century. I wonder, how long has it been since someone held her hand?”
Would you mind stopping right now and lifting a prayer for this beautiful woman, created in the image of our God?