Imago DeiWhen I was in college (lo, these many years ago), I majored in what became known among many as a “BART” degree…a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Theology.  At the time, students in the School of Religion could not graduate until the completed a “Senior Project” – a 25 – 35 page paper on a topic approved by the faculty of the School.

My paper focused on a biography of one of my heroes of the faith, E. Stanley Jones.  Often referred to as the greatest Christian missionary since St. Paul, Jones was a Methodist pastor and spent nearly 60 years of his life as a missionary to India.  Few people have loved the people and country of India more than Jones…except his friend Mahatma Gandhi.

In one of their many conversations, Gandhi told Jones, “If you don’t find God in the very next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him any further.”

I think he was right.

How many times have you and I looked at another human being and instead of seeing the divine, we saw dirt?  On a regular basis, I dare say, we find ourselves struggling to see the good in others.  When you encounter a person of lower social-economic status than yourself, for example,  what is your first reaction? Grace? Judgement?  What?

The person who is standing in line next to you at the grocery store check-out or at the post office; the man or woman who greets you on the sidewalk as you pass; the guy who drops in unannounced at your office when you are buried in work – all of them are the clearest, closest reflection we have of God.  Each of them is created in the image of God (imago Dei).  If we can’t see God in them – if they don’t see God in us! – there is no use looking any further.

If we do not see God in every one, we will not see God in any one.

Gandhi was right…if we can’t see God in the very next person we meet, it’s a waste of time to keep on looking.

It’s a good thing we’re not God!  Scriptures tell us that God look at the heart – what’s on the inside. 

If God judged by appearances, we would all be in trouble.