Imago Dei is the idea that humanity is created in the image of God or is the reflection of God. Each person bears the divine spark of God. It is easy for us to forget this, to believe idealistically in humanity but not in actual humans. We can imagine perfect people being close to God, but what about the rest of us?
What if we really thought to look for God's presence in our family, our friends, strangers, or people who get on our nerves? Is God really reflected in the girl who knows how to get under your skin or the guy who seems to like being a jerk? Sure. These two people, along with everyone else, have something to teach us about who God is. This does not mean that everyone is perfect but that everyone has possibility. No one is outside of God's light and love. What would change if we really treated people as Imago Dei?
When we see God as incarnate - embodied in our world and in our lives - faith changes. Relationships do not get easier or less confusing; but we realize that by paying attention to and being curious about our lives, we are in conversation with God. Maybe this already makes sense to you. Maybe you see the face of God in people you meet every day, but can you see God in yourself? God is reflected in us. The idea that God is embodied in me is difficult and hard to claim. Seeing ourselves as bearers of God's image means we have to see our lives as full of gift, potential, power, and beauty. That is tough to do in a world in which we often are told that we aren't worthy or lovable unless we are perfect or present ourselves a certain way.
It is bold to look at yourself every day and to claim that you are the bearer of God's image. It is also true. In accepting this embodied God in ourselves and others, we meet a God who grows and changes how people show up in the world, a God who surprises, who lives through hard times and joyous moments - a God who looks like us. If we look for God in all people, we begin to see them (and ourselves) with gentle compassion and grace. God is not a distant presence but a living force that we can see when we look in the mirror or in the face of another. God has written part of His name on each and every one of us.
Ask your teen...
Who in your life reflects the image of God? How?
Challenge your teen...
Use your phone or camera to take pictures of every person and place in which you see God's image reflected. Don't forget to take a selfie!
Father in heaven, give us compassion and hope when we look for you in your people. Amen.