The Image of God


by David Browder

Last week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court. In all likelihood, President Trump will nominate a successor and the Senate will vote on the President’s nominee. Each of us has political convictions; each of us has opinions about how the Supreme Court should rule on any given issue; I certainly have mine. But, in the midst of this, I want to write about something different: I want to write about Christian witness — a Christian alternative to the ways of our society.

Consider these events:

• A few years ago, during that infamous rally in Charlottesville, an alt-right partisan drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing one.

• A few weeks ago, a Trump supporter was shot and killed in Portland. Some of the protestors celebrated.

• More recently, two ambushed police officers in critical condition were met by protestors at the Emergency Room in L.A. who chanted, “We hope they die!”

• More recently still, some counter-protestors knelt on each others’ necks, mocking the death of George Floyd as peaceful protestors marched by.

These are tragic and outrageous symptoms of creeping de-humanization. What do I mean by “de-humanization”? I mean being so committed to one’s identity or tribe (in this case political) that one is willing to view someone of a different identity or tribe as sub-human. There are many reasons for this awful trend — but a trend and trajectory it is.

Black people in the United States were de-humanized for centuries — even referred to as a different species — to justify maltreatment. In the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin called a certain kind of peasant (known as “kulaks”) “vampires and bloodsuckers” before persecuting them and starving them in the Ukranian famine. Recently, ethnic Hutus in Rwanda borrowed from Nazi nomenclature and called their counterpart ethnic Tutsis “cockroaches” before unleashing the appalling genocide of 1994. The trend — and I hope you spotted it — is that bad things happen during and after the times when we de-humanize others.

As Christians, the way of dehumanization should be shut off to us.

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27 ESV

Even the most virulent and vicious people have inherent worth and dignity. As much as they may have debased themselves or others, they are image-bearers of God for whom Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, died. This makes them infinitely valuable in the eyes of God. Your political opponents are not demons or sub-human, no matter how wrong you think they are. They bear the image of God and are as valuable to Him as is the blood of His Son.

Christians really can show a different way in the mire of de-humanization in which we find ourselves. If we hold to the Faith we have received and repent where we have gone wrong (and we will go wrong), we can do our community and country more good than any lashing out on social media could hope to achieve. There are people who want you angry and lashing out. It suits their purposes. They manipulate you into the behavior they desire: “Resist. Rebel. Revolt.”

No. Rather “love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.” (It seems like I have heard that somewhere). True Christianity is counter-cultural and it allows you to keep your sanity and soul at a time when so many seem to have lost theirs.