A few years ago, while I got to pastor some inner-city teens, I led a discussion on Aliens. Yep, Aliens! You might be thinking, “and this is why you’re no longer pastoring inner-city teens.” Maybe…Maybe not. 😊 It wasn’t on whether aliens existed, are hidden in Area 51, nor if they’d conjure up a plan to attack humans in the year 2020! No, it was designed to shed light on what they would observe if given the opportunity to explore our world!
As a bunch of life-long city dwellers, we needed some help, so we put an image of Google Earth on the screen. We were able to rotate the blue and white planet freely from region to region. We’d pan from the bright white ice-capped poles to the blue oceans and each continent. We’d slow down over some breathtaking mountain regions, valleys, deserts and forests noticeable through stretches of greens, browns and yellows on the screen.
We shared with each other what this expedition might reveal. What aliens would see, feel, smell and hear. What kind of animals would be scaling a mountain and birds soaring the skies? What might be swimming beneath the ice and what kind of sounds, colors, shapes, and sizes would live in great jungle-forests?
We agreed that the aliens would conclude this world was creatively bursting with vibrancy and beauty (my summation of ‘city-teen’ response!), and that they’d be quite impressed. But there was one important piece not yet mentioned. Humans.
What would aliens conclude about humanity?
They would notice a group that surpassed any other on the planet in coordinating. From communities to cultures, economy and politics, they’d see a group who were exceedingly advanced.
They would also see a group who topped all on the planet in communicating. Humans would speak in various languages, ‘write’ for reading, ‘sign’ for seeing and ‘brail’ for feeling.
Not to mention their artistry. Harmonizing sounds and mastering written forms of it so they could be preserved and replicated. Writing stories, poems, using paints, and carving immaculately complex structures, using only the materials their earth provides.
There is so much more, but we get the hint. There is something unique and special about this “other group,” something that sets them…us…apart from all the rest. And here is where I pointed the students toward a glimpse of the meaning of the Imago Dei. Humans made in the Image of God. When we’re at our best, a visitor to our world can say, “That’s what their Creator must be like, look like, and feel like, and that creator must be good.”
But that image can quickly be tarnished, can’t it? We’re not always at our best, are we?
For the first time in our youth chat, the tragedy in our world appeared. And it wasn’t until we set our gaze on our own race. We saw dysfunctional and broken families, violence, war and death, and the senseless brutality, cruelty and degradation of human life. We could locate this tragedy in any decade, century or millennia. We can locate it today as mass shootings, murders and the plagues of injustice, inequality and brutality continue to run rampant. Humans are lacking the main ingredient of Imago Dei…Love.
Reflecting on current events considering Easter brought this youth lesson to mind. A world of such potential, if only the pinnacle of creation could embrace Imago Dei Love.
In a few short weeks, Easter’s power and hope can be forgotten. “The dark powers still reign and there’s no hope for the world,” we might think. What does it mean that Jesus stood within the tragedy and identified with it? That He was victimized by our brokenness and the power of darkness resulting in His death by crucifixion. Is that truly good and powerful news?
It is! His resurrection means a plan’s active that is reversing the tragedy! He disarmed the powers that aim to destroy life. He opened the cell and offers release to everyone. Release from every oppressive crippling lie that binds and destroys, and invites surrender to a Love that heals and inspires.
So, in the grimmest of moments, remember that God is working in ways we often don’t see. He’s freeing humans one by one, and there will come a day when we’re back on track. We’ll reflect the Loving Imago Dei, creation will be fully restored and any explorer would conclude that our world is creatively bursting with vibrancy and beauty to the glory of its God!
Romans 8:19 “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.”
Colossians 1:20 “and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.”
Genesis 1:27 “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Written by Eloy Gonzalez, BHITC’s Manager of Ministry Engagement. To connect with Eloy, send him an email at email@example.com.