In Our Own Image?

As I write this journal I’m listening to an old cassette tape I found. One of the songs, “Simply Live” by James Rainwater, goes like this:

“I placed you so high I could not reach you. I let you live in just palaces of gold. I made you so rich and so holy you couldn’t dwell within a searching soul.

You came to earth in a lonely stable. You’re were know as just a carpenter’s boy. But you ate with the weak and rejected. Saw beauty in their hearts and gave them hope.

Simply live, simply love, simply show the beauty of your simple words, your simple faith, your simple deeds, your simple grace. If I try to make it hard just remind me who you are and teach me, Lord, to simply be like you.”

This song really challenged me with a question: Have we as a Christian culture—and also me personally—made Jesus in our (my) own image? There is a popular quote circulating around among my Facebook friends that goes like this. “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do” (Anne Lamott). As I reflect on the question, comparing my actions with the teaching I find in the Bible, I can’t help but be confronted with the fact that I do in fact create God in my own image on occasion.

John 3:16–17 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal Life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” This text convicts me to my core because I don’t always want to extend grace to people.

Whether is because I feel that they have wronged me in some way or simply because they seem strange because they are so different from me. Yet Jesus came down to this world, living and dying for me so that I could have eternal life. If I take my logic of why I don’t share grace with others my god wouldn’t be big enough to save me. Thankfully I don’t serve the god of my creation.

If God does not think the same as me what does that mean for me? John 3:17 says that God didn’t send His Son into the world to condemn the world. Instead God sent his Son in to the world to extend grace to everyone so that no one would perish. God came to this earth to reconcile all of us to Him. As humans we often feel a need to segregate and put up walls between people. We can give many different reasons why we do this though in reality the reason that we put up walls is to make us feel differentiated from everyone else. God showed us a revolutionary concept with the idea that the God of the universe would extend salvation to everyone—even the very people that hurt him. The next time we start making a god in our own image by thinking that someone else is somehow different than us, let’s instead remember the unconditional love that God showed us.

—ANDREW