Let this truth sink in. There is no one, not a single human, not made in the image of God. This means that those we love, those we like, those that seem repugnant to us, those we ignore, minimize, or look down on—they are all made in the image of God, just as we are. All people, regardless of sex, ethnicity, nationality, mental or physical capacity, or any other distinction we can conceive, are made in God’s image. And by crafting us in his image, God created humans with inherently great value.
- Whom in our society—and even, if you’re honest, in your own life—do you tend to view as “unclean” or “less than?”
- How can you better show the people around you the value that God has created them with and treat them as true brothers and sisters? Think of a specific person.
- Take one day and during your interactions, pause to recognize that each person you talk to or pass by is created in the image of God. How does this change your perspective of them, your understanding of God, and your own heart?
3. Demonstrate the Good Gospel
According to Paul in Ephesians 2, the gospel unites us not only to God, but also to one another. The same cross that eternally saves us also commissions and equips us to seek out human conciliation and to be activistic toward humanity’s wholeness in the world. It meant so much to God that he paid the highest price. So, armed with the gospel, we advocate for the Kingdom—graciously confronting all that is unlike the Kingdom’s culture.
The entire Bible communicates God’s passion for justice because justice was central to ancient Israel’s practices and became a defining feature of the Christian movement. Justice is relevant to all aspects of God’s creation, ranging from individual needs to communal concerns to environmental stewardship. A defining characteristic of God’s people is that they—following God’s own example—love, defend, and provide for the marginalized people within society. True devotion to God is not confined to religious rituals but is measured in how God’s people treat vulnerable people (James 1:27).
- Has your understanding of the gospel been a full gospel or a truncated, partial gospel? Where are there gaps in your gospel, or misalignment in what you preach versus how you live?
- How has God broken your heart for the things that break his? Where do you still have calluses over your heart or soul?
- How can you and those in your faith community become full “gospelizers,” on earth as it is in heaven?
4. Hold On to Hope
The people of God should be marked by a great hope. The church is the expression of the triune God’s multifaceted glory, joy, love, power, and wisdom on display for all to see. It’s also the redeemed family of God—a diverse, global, historic family—who were once separated from God and from one another but are now united in Christ because of his work on the cross and his resurrection. And as God’s redeemed family, we have been empowered by the Spirit to display and declare God’s glad gospel hope—the hope of dignity, wholeness, restoration, refreshment, and repentance—wherever we have been planted.
And yet the reality is that there is much brokenness in this world. Jesus promised that in this world we would have suffering. But he also promised that he has overcome the world, that God would wipe every tear from our eyes, and that we would never be alone. We are accompanied by God, enveloped in his created world, and woven together in the community of Christ. Rooted in those promises, we can keep dancing, keep moving, and keep working for peace, justice, and restoration during our time on this earth.
- Would you describe your church as a people of hope, even of glad hope? Why or why not?
- When Miriam left her life of slavery, she packed her tambourine. What can be your “tambourine”—a tangible symbol of faith that God can bring better things to come?
- What are the ways God is calling you to keep moving, to keep working for peace, justice, healing, and restoration?