Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Image Bearers

Yesterday, I said that what passes for "diversity" in our current dialogue is scarcely that, at best. We're drawing our lines too broadly and making diversity only that thing that, on the largest possible scale, makes you and me "different" somehow - race, sex, sexuality, economics, hair color, whatever. And the problem is that when we do this, we neglect the very real diversity that is at the heart of who we are as image-bearers of our incredible God. 

Persons today are too satisfied to be categorized as one thing; we're too quick to label ourselves as this or that. We staunchly demand that others treat us according to what we believe is our most defining characteristic, when the truth is that that characteristic is typically the thing that makes us most like other people. 

And it's why I refuse to interact with others on the basis of such characterizations.

So you're black. Okay. But is that the truest thing about you? I'm white. Is that the truest thing about me? You're gay; I'm straight. What does this say about us? You're male; I'm female. Are we getting any closer? Nope. Not yet. 

Because these things have nothing to do with the heart, and, more tragically, they have nothing to do with the heart of God. Blackness or whiteness is not a defining characteristic of God. It doesn't tell me anything about Him. And honestly? I don't care. I don't care if God is black, white, purple, or some translucent prismatic color. That has nothing to do with the way that He loves, the way that He thinks, the shape that grace takes. It's our construct, not His. So it shows us who we are, but it doesn't show us who He is. Does God's sexuality, assuming He has one at all, matter when it comes to His heart? No. Is God's love homo- or hetero-? It can't be. It's not classified that way. Is God male or female? Yes. And no. And none of that matters. 

What matters is something that's deeper down in all of us. What matters is not the reflection in the mirror but the imprint in our hearts. And that's how we ought to be relating to one another. That's how we ought to be loving one another.

There are all these amazing, incredible, beautiful things about each and every one of us. And almost all of them are lost in today's rhetoric. We are image-bearers of an amazing, incredible, beautiful God, and we're not showing each other, we're not honoring each other, with the intense diversity that this permits.

There are things I don't do well. Things that God does very well that I just don't do as well. But you do them. Your heart is built for that. And when I enter into a relationship or into a community with you, that's what I want you to be. That's what I need you to be. Because when you are who God created you to be, with all of your real characteristics, with all of your defining glory, you reveal something to me about God. You show me something that I can't seem to envision through my own eyes. You expose me to something my heart just doesn't get in the same way that yours does. And when I see it in you, I can't help but ask the questions we're all asking...what does that mean? What does that look like? What is the tremendous benefit of this? What is the potential struggle? Where do I see the tension of God's own heart in this? 

We're sort of asking these questions already, but they're meaningless without the heart behind them. These questions are meaningless in terms of race. Or sexuality. Or gender. Or sex. Or whatever. In this context, they only lead us back to our world, our broken, messed-up, cursed world. But when we ask these very same questions about qualities of the heart, they draw us up out of this world and into Creation itself. Into the very heart of God Himself. That's where it matters. That's what I'm looking for.

That's the holy ground where I'm willing to meet you - in the place where we are beautifully different because we are creationally the same, image-bearers of an incredible God, knit together in just this way for just this time for just this reason: that we might teach one another something of Him.

(Before you get all down on me, give me one more day on this.)

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