In God’s image
Every year I look forward to watching the NFL draft on television. I love college football, and I’m eager to see the reactions of some of my favorite players when a team selects them. What an emotional moment to finally realize that their dreams of playing professionally are coming true.
Although I find joy in these stories, at some point the endless scrutiny of athletic skill and potential becomes monotonous and even problematic. The small fraction of individuals who are “good enough” is not encouraging. It’s very likely that some exceptional human beings are being disregarded because they are not fast enough or tall enough.
This year, though, there was a lot of attention given to a young man named Shaquem Griffin. Shaquem was born with a congenital disorder, leaving him with only one fully formed hand. Despite his apparent disadvantage, he grew into an incredible football player, and last weekend he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. At first glance, an NFL scout might have dismissed Shaquem. But by venturing past traditional, superficial evaluations, many were able to see his innate and extraordinary qualities.
Griffin’s story makes me think about other circumstances in which we might judge people we don’t know by unfair and harmful standards. In our world, we are surrounded with images and lofty ideals of how we should be or behave. These unrealistic expectations of humanity leave a large portion of society marginalized and underappreciated.
To challenge these realities, I turn to the story in Genesis 1 where God first creates human beings. The author tells us that humans are created “in God’s image”. There are debates about what “God’s image” might mean physically and theologically, but in the very least this line tells us that all humans were created to be children of God surrounded by God’s love and grace. We are all precious in God’s eyes.
This small snippet of Scripture urges me to see everyone I meet through a similar lens – to see every human being as one who is made in God’s image. It encourages me not to judge or scrutinize, but to love. It inspires me to form relationships with people, even if they look, act, or think differently than I do.
This is a challenge for all of us, as we seek to live with faith on our sleeves. And may God’s spirit fill us with the courage to do so.
– Josh Kestner, pastor in residency