By Bishop Paul
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them[Genesis 1:26-27].
Many of us may be familiar with these words from Genesis. They are important words that offer some answers as to how we approach and address “sinners” with acceptance and unconditional love. Every human being is born created with the image of God and after His likeness. The image of God in us speaks to what is there to begin with, while “after the likeness” implies something that has yet to mature, something in which we are called to grow into the likeness of God. We are all a “work in progress.” No matter what we do in our lives, however sinful it is, we cannot totally eradicate that image. All of us seek to know where we came from and to understand the Source of our existence. To know the One Who made us is a desire that is in all of us.
Whenever we encounter people with the various scarlet letters they bring with them, we need to lay that aside and to seek the one common denominator all of us share — the desire to know the One Who made us, the Creator whose very image we bear in us. It is never eradicated, regardless of how scarred and damaged it may be as a result of our actions. This is where we need to start. We strive, not to see someone as “such and such a person,” but as someone to whom we are united, seeking to discover who they are in relationship to the One Who made them. We can begin by listening to their stories and their experiences. We can even discuss how they came to arrive at the choices they have made in their lives without judging them in our initial desire is to listen and seek to understand. Doing so does not mean that we approve of their choices. We do not compromise our Orthodox Christian faith in doing so. We all want to be loved, to be heard, and to be understood. When we can convey this to the people we encounter in daily life, we begin a process of building a bridge instead of a wall.
The Lord’s blessing be upon you.
I welcome comments on the above; I don’t claim to be infallible here.
- What can we say or do that will put a wall up in our relationships with others. What tears those walls down? Be specific here.