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February 24, 2018

Imago Dei: Image of God

By James Pavlic

Software Development and Ministry 

Over the past 20 years or so, I have heard many IT related jokes, like this one: “How do you tell an introverted computer scientist from an extroverted computer scientist? An extroverted computer scientist looks at your shoes when he talks to you.” Have you ever heard, used, or thought something like this before?

Because of a strong level of introversion, many people struggle relating or communicating with those who are in the IT or software development field. Could this be because we lack an understanding of their inherent beauty?

Before I get into the beauty of these types of people, I would like to dedicate this post to a very important question: What do we say and think about people who are different from us? This idea is a critical one in learning how to love and appreciate software developers or IT people that we find ourselves around in a church context.

Imago Dei (Image of God)

Even though we know that people are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) in unique and beautiful ways (Ps. 8:3-8), it seems as though we have a tendency to want them to image us. Because we are each uniquely created by God, we may think that the way we are is beauty. This is not to say that the way we are is not beautiful; it is simply that there are others as well. These others are beautiful and reflect God in different ways than we do. We live in a world of many, because God chose to image Himself through many.

Watch our mouths

Think through James 3:9 with me for a moment. “With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness.” Now, let’s ask ourselves the question, How many times have we used our mouths in such a way that we have demeaned or belittled people who are different than us?

The big problem, it seems, of using our tongue against others is that somehow, we are saying that the way a person images God is somehow deficient or wrong. Now, it is important to understand that there are things in people that are deficient and wrong, namely, sin. This is to be expected in a world plunged into sin by our first parents (Gen. 3:1-7). However, how often are the things that we see as deficient and wrong simply differences? How often do we see people who struggle in social spaces as unloving? How often do we look at a person who pays much attention to detail as somehow not caring about others?

James continues in verse 10, saying, “Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way.” God is clear here that speaking evil against others made in the image of God is inconsistent with loving God. The point seems to be: “How can we say we love God, when we can’t even see His beauty in people that He made to express His beauty that are different than us?” This should give us reason to be careful how we view others.

Watch our minds

I think it is easy for many of us, myself included, to mentally assent to belief in the Scriptures without truly believing them, or maybe I should say, acting upon that belief. We must ask ourselves, Is the Imago Dei true? If so, do we live by it? True belief tells us that we must love God and love others.

It is quite easy to make intellectual knowledge and assent the measure of our orthodoxy. But we must not exclude the practical application of this intellectual knowledge. In Matthew 15:18 Jesus said, “But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a person.” So, what is the point of me saying all this? Our mouths are only the symptom of our heart.

What next?

We must ask ourselves if we truly believe in the Imago Dei. Do we believe that God has created a planet full of people who reflect Him? Is each person uniquely created and beautiful in their own way? If yes, then we may need to:

  1. Repent of our attitudes toward these beautiful people that are all around us.
  2. Ask God to show us His beauty and wonder.
  3. Ask God to give us eyes to see the beauty in each and every person that we encounter that reflects back upon Him.

Live in thanksgiving for giving us so many pictures of how wonderful and beautiful He is.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Pavlic

James Pavlic (@jtpavlic) is a bivocational pastor who has worked in software development for almost 20 years and currently lives in Mesopotamia, Ohio where he is on the journey of rural church planting.

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