Imagine taking a walk down a gravel road through the countryside. It’s a crisp Saturday morning, and early autumn is just beginning to change the leaves from green to brown. The sun is breaking through the clouds low in the east, igniting the dewy fields all around you in fiery white light. Somewhere to your left, hidden in the tall grass, a small rabbit watches you pass by with ears alert. As you walk, the landscape slowly transitions from open fields to forest. The road takes you up and down hills, and the exercise makes you feel awake and alive. Maybe you’re grateful for the energy from the coffee you drank earlier.
The road turns, and as you round the corner you stop suddenly. You can’t believe what your eyes are seeing and your blood runs cold. The creature is standing – no, towering – among the cedars, face turned away from you. You can barely make out its shape because the light of its clothing nearly blinds you. What is it made of? Fire? Lightning? As you sink to the ground, overwhelmed and speechless, you notice movement around the creature, things waving back and forth. Six wings, powerful and graceful.
Your mind goes numb as you realize you’ve come face to face with an angel. You try to scramble back to your feet, wanting nothing more than to run away from the terrifying experience before it turns and sees you there. You feel so small and insignificant before this creature of heaven, and you wish you had never taken this walk, never left the comfort of your ordinary life. But before you can muster the strength to stand, the angel turns around. It sees you. You freeze. Then it does something that shocks you. It trembles, kneels to the ground, bows its head, and hides its face from you.
You might not realize it at the time, but for all the majesty and beauty possessed by the angel in the forest, it does not have what you have. You are a child of God, and you bear His likeness.
The Truth about Humanity
Of course, the little narrative above is not to be taken completely seriously. I’ve never seen an angel (at least I don’t think I have), nor can I truly say how an angel would react meeting me on a Saturday morning walk. But I wanted to illustrate this point: above all that God has created, humans are in a place of privilege and honor. And that truth must come to bear on every aspect of our lives, from how we relate to others to how we understand ourselves.
There are many truths in the Bible that completely change our perspectives, and one of them is found in Genesis 1:26,
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
“Let Us make man in Our image.” Let that phrase preach to you for a moment. You are made in the image of God, the Creator of all things, the Holy, Incorruptible, and Almighty God of the Universe. No matter how mundane your existence feels right now, this truth should break like a sunbeam through dark storm clouds.
You bear the image of God. You carry it with you into any and all circumstances. When angels and demons look at you, they see the image of God in you. When God looks at you, He sees His likeness looking right back at Him. It may be damaged, marred by the sin in your life, but it is there nonetheless, and nothing can take it away from you.
Living in Christ-like Dignity
Imagine a young prince and princess, children of a king, who forget who they are. One day, they are nowhere to be found. The king sends his servants to scour the land for his children. After days of searching, the young royals are found clothed in tattered rags, wallowing in a pigsty, and behaving like the animals around them. They refuse to come back to the palace. The shock and scandal spread throughout the realm, much to the embarrassment of the king. Daily the king visits the pigsty and tries to convince his children to return. “Remember who you are!” he pleads with them.
Christian, it is of utmost importance that we remember who we are: beings who are modeled after the image of the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-holy Lord of the universe. There is nothing mundane or ordinary about that.
C.S. Lewis wrote of this in his essay The Weight of Glory:
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. … Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses."
How do you imagine this kind of immortal, Image-bearing, destined-for-glory being would live? How would they handle discomfort, ridicule, and hardship? How would they face fear and death? How would they undertake their God-given duties in obedience?
Our example is Jesus Christ. His humility, zeal for holiness, quiet reliance on the Holy Spirit, and dignity in the face of ridicule and rejection. Never once did He act like He wasn’t the Son of God. Never once did He live as if God hadn’t given all things into His hands. Never once was He swayed from the path of obedience by the lies of Satan.
Lean into Jesus. Fill your mind and heart with His words. Trace every step of His path in the Gospels and meditate on how He lived. Pray for strength and grace as you try to live as the child God says you are.
This article first appeared on the Stand.