I’ve been part of a conversation that’s on the emergent kiwi blog. It started with a post titled, ‘ Large people and Airplane seats ‘ which was quite provocative and offensive to some people. Lately Steve has started another post that asks,… “Why, if Christians are made in the image of God, is it so hard to look at ourselves n*ked in the mirror?” . Here’s how I responded to that question.
“Why, if Christians are made in the image of God, is it so hard to look at ourselves n*ked in the mirror?” …. Partly, because we are an overtly ‘compartmentalized’ people.
Well, first of all, Christians aren’t the only ones made in the image of God – apparently all of Humanity is too. According to the story in Genesis humanity with all its diversity of colour, shape, size, psychology, personality, emotions, culture, and it’s need for spirituality can all find its source from this statement, ” made in the image of God “…It’s a mysterious statement but it’s ambiguity can also be explored… One of things it does do is affirm our physicality.
We are holistic beings that are are made up of many distinctive’s described above. I think it’s deficient to focus on the physical alone and ask the question, ‘ what does made in the image of God mean today ‘ ? This idea of compartmentalizing our beings, for the church, goes way back to St Augustine who was a huge fan of the Greek philosopher Plato. Plato promoted the idea of ‘Dualism’ which Augustine picked up on and masterfully applied it to the Christian life and world view of his day which still reaches down to ours. Basically, Augustine said that the Spiritual life was most important and should be the focus of our Christian growth. Our physical nature, over all, was something that was akin to carnality, the flesh, the inherently sinful part of ourselves. Some of the results of this philosophy in the church have been : The perception that sex is evil, the female body inspires lust, emotions and intuition can’t be trusted, the physical body isn’t that important, the environment can be exploited , even being ‘educated’ has taken a toll under this philosophy…. We often say to each other, ‘ how’s your Spiritual life ‘ ? as though that’s what’s most important, as though it’s separate from every other part of our beings.
I’m doing away with this kind of compartmentalization or personal separatism. I am one ‘being’ made up of many distinctive’s; In that like the different organs of my body, they ‘ bleed ‘ into each other. Those distinctive’s are all important to God and should be looked after in the pursuit of Godliness. I’m beginning to understand that I can’t do anything spiritually, physically, emotionally etc. that’s not going to effect every other distinctive of my being. We have a responsibility to look after our physical bodies, like we take care of our ‘ spiritual ‘ life. But not in the vanity and conformity of this world. We do it because in some measure it bears Gods image, which is a mystery, because we’re all so different. So bear his image and be who you are but don’t be conformed to the vain nature of this world.
That’s my two bits…