Live the Image

Unless we look at a person and see the beauty there is in this person, we can contribute nothing to him. One does not help a person by discerning what is wrong, what is ugly, what is distorted. Christ looked at everyone he met, at the prostitute, at the thief, and saw the beauty hidden there. Perhaps it was distorted, perhaps damaged, but it was beauty none the less, and what he did was to call out this beauty.” – Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

We are created in the image of God, the beauty of which Metropolitan Anthony speaks.  We’ve heard that over and over, maybe to the point that we don’t take it as seriously as we should – but truly believing this impacts how we live.  The problem, however, is not necessarily that we don’t believe it, but that we forget it.

We forget it when someone continually wrongs us (or someone we love) and we harbor hatred in our heart. We forget it when we take pleasure in another’s misfortunes when we believe they deserve it.  We forget it when we look down on the poor because of choices they’ve made.  We forget it when we desire vengeance for those who have committed horrible crimes.  We forget it when we gossip.

Attempting to see the beauty in someone who has wronged us never justifies their bad behavior, but it does change us.  Seeing people as Christ saw others helps us to live the image in which we were created and it produces the kind of compassion needed to change the world.

After Steve Stephens broadcast his murder of Robert Godwin on Facebook, Godwin’s daughter, Tonya Godwin-Baines said this of Stephens:  “Each one of us forgives the killer, the murderer. We want to wrap our arms around him.”

This is breathtaking faith.  “Wrap our arms around him”? Would that we all could do that, but I’m not sure I’m there yet.  What I do know is that the only way someone could express that sentiment is because they refuse to forget that even the greatest of sinners are beautifully made in the image of God.

The Value of Your Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Easter 2017

body of Christ

What do you think is the value of your stewardship? Do you believe that through your actions both great and small that God can touch people, heal them, and change their lives? Too often we can mistakenly assume that what we do, say, or offer can have little effect in the grand scheme of life. We are simply poor sinners in need of salvation so what could we do anyway?

Jesus speaks very powerfully to what can be done by those who believe in Him and follow Him. He says in John’s gospel, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.” Greater ones than these? Think about all the miracles of Jesus recorded in sacred scripture. You and I can do works greater than those?

Theresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” We are Christ to a world that needs Him. It is the Christ in you that responds to the Christ in me. If it were only you alone going about doing good works and deeds, than your stewardship would amount to little. But if you bear the name Christian, and you approach your discipleship seriously, you can truly do greater things. If you understand your stewardship as a way that Jesus works in our world, then this way of life, cultivating and sharing your gifts at every turn, becomes more valuable than all the gold in the world.