In the Image and Likeness

“Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Genesis 1:26
I have always struggled with the image and likeness line that I have quoted from Genesis. It has always seemed to me like something that we could never live up to. Then I started to read more about how we are to love our neighbor as ourselves and it all becomes clearer.
In St. Benedicts Rule for Monasteries he tells his monks to receive all as Christ. We are to be able to see Christ in every person we come into contact with because we are all created in the image and likeness of God. We all have the Divine Spark that comes with our creation.
So what does this mean from a practical point of view? In the Orthodox Church we believe in the sanctity of life from the moment of conception to its natural death. That means we need to care for all people all along the spectrum of life. In a very real sense we are our brothers’ keeper.
Several months ago we began a Community Meal here at the Church. This is not a soup kitchen but a time for people from the community, of all walks of life, to come and enjoy a meal. We have served almost 1,000 meals in this time. The people who come don’t just eat and leave they stay and chat with each other, renew old friendships, and basically have a good time. They always leave with a smile on their faces.
The other day I came across a quote on Facebook that made me stop and think. “Imagine the most despicable person you know. How would you feel if on judgment day you looked up and saw that face for all eternity?” The quote came from Bishop Melchizedeck of Pittsburg. Wow, that one needed some thought.
No person is intrinsically evil. We are not born evil, evilness comes to us because of sin but no person is evil. I started to think about this and the people who have committed evil actions in the past, and applied that quote to them. Since we are all created in the image and likeness of God then we are all children of God, including the men who flew the planes into the World Trade Center on 9/11!
The Orthodox Church takes the positions it does in certain moral issues simple because of this point that we are all created in the image and likeness. Each of us needs to look at another person and be able to see the divine spark in the other person. When making decisions we need to always remember that aspect of humanity.
Each person that walks through the door here for our community meal is Jesus. Each person climbing over the wall or the fence of the US/Mexican Boarder is Jesus. There is no other way to put it.
Receive all guests as Christ. That’s what we are called to do! Caring for others is a very Christian thing to do. Christianity is a higher calling than any other and we are required to do more than the average person.


  1. i was told that we has christians are given from God and our job is to pass it on to others,in other words we are a channel or the middle man to the world.

  2. Great post!

    I have been studying this same subject for myself lately. In fact, the women of our church are having an annual retreat in November called, "Love Is On The Move. Discoverying your role in God's redemptive plan for humanity."

    The whole retreat is based on the foundation that each person bears the image of God, each is an icon to be honored. Fr. Justin Mathewes, CEO of FOCUS North America will be our speaker. We're hoping to podcast it.

    Our own priest, Fr. Stephen Rogers will introduce the retreat with a talk about "The Legacy of Incarnational Love."

    Thanks for speaking about this. When we see each human in this light, imagine what it makes possible!

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