#write31days: what it means to be human (days 7-10)

This is what a 31-days series looks like with 4 children (3 of whom are 2 and under).

Less than 31 days.

Instead of apologizing for it, I’m just going to go with it.

So, here we are.

Hannah Anderson describes the doctrine of imago dei like this:

Imago dei means that your life has purpose and meaning because God made you to be like Himself. [It] means that your life has intrinsic value, not simply because of who you are as an individual, but because of who He is as your God. Imago dei means that your life is sacred because He has stamped His identity onto yours.

…By revealing that we are made in God’s image, it is revealing how we are to exist, how we are made to live, and what it means to be human.”

What does it mean to be human?

My favorite class in college was an upper-level political science course called International Human Rights. We studied the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and I found it to be one of the most beautiful documents ever written. The preamble declares, “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,” and goes on to list, article by article, what it means for us as humans to “act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood” (Article 1).

I don’t know all of the ins-and-outs of common grace, but this seems like evidence of it. We see in our neighbors a dignity and value that exists simply because they, like us, are human. This is not without exception, of course, as genocide, slavery, human trafficking and other crimes against humanity illustrate. But despite our fallenness, despite our differences, the image of God is written on our hearts.

I had coffee with a new friend yesterday, and she talked about growing up with an “us” and “them” mentality towards people inside and outside the church. It grieves her now, as she recognizes common grace and the simple reality that we have the same Creator; we bear the same image, and as a result, each person makes a unique contribution to the world. I think recognizing this truth elevates Jesus’ commands to love both my neighbor and my enemy to a whole different level.

My brief stints in D.C., L.A. and Chicago exposed me to the reality of homelessness. I could not walk from one block to another without passing someone with cup-in-hand. I can’t say that I gave to everyone who asked, and it’s with shame that I admit that many times, I would look to my feet in discomfort and pass by as quickly as possible. But someone challenged me to look up. To look them in the eye and genuinely wish them well. To give what I could–coins, bills, a hot meal or a warm cup of coffee–with the acknowledgement that they are, in fact, human. This is one of the greatest gifts we can give, she said. Because when you’re homeless sometimes you forget that you’re still human.

When we look another human being in the eye, we affirm the humanity of a person made in the image of God. And when we do that, we have the opportunity to celebrate the God who creates, the God who loves, the God who redeems.


knowthyGodlogo-100pxThis post is part of my Write 31 Days series, Know Thy God, Know Thyself. To read more posts from this series, visit the Introduction here.

To learn more about the book that inspired my series, visit Hannah Anderson’s blog.