Genesis 1:26-27

Jul 24, 2023



All people on this earth are made in the image of God. That means several things. First, all men and women and children are created by God, loved by God, and potentially forgiven for all their sins. Secondly, every single person has the potential to turn back to God, to repent and change the direction of his or her life, to believe in Jesus Christ, and to follow Him wherever He would lead us. Third, each of us has the Indwelling Spirit of God within us, lying dormant until we do turn back to God, and start to follow Jesus. From then on Jesus speaks to us through God’s Indwelling Spirit.


Of course, this is not how the world works. Mostly, we humans prefer to be with people like us. We denigrate those who aren’t like us, and sometimes we treat them poorly. This is how the world works. But in God’s eyes, we are all His children, all capable of loving Him if we will only turn back to Him and let Him lead us to the human being He created us to be, fulfilling the purpose He envisioned for us at our creation. To the Lord our skin color, our intelligence, our profession or work that we do, our ancestors, any differences among us at all—none of these matters to Him who created a human race of great variety in all things. He just loves us all.


So, when we consider Jesus’s Two Great Commandments in Mark 12:28-31 and how they are to affect our dealings with all the people we meet, we must align ourselves with these principles: If we love God with all of who we are—heart, mind, soul, and strength, we are also to love all the other people as we love ourselves. That last principle is the challenging one: to love ourselves, because if we can’t love ourselves, then how can we love, really love anyone else? For if God loves and forgives us, and we love God, how can we not love and forgive ourselves?


When we decide to repent and turn our lives over to God, our first task is to love ourselves, just as we are. We are to admit our faults and our sins, and still to love ourselves as God loves us. For none of us human beings are perfect, without sin and faults at least when we are in these human bodies. We were given the choice of whether we love God or not. And so it is up to us. But if we reject God’s love for ourselves, how could we ever pass on God’s love to everyone else? Wouldn’t we just stay with the oh-so-human desire to denigrate and judge people?


One of the great teachings of Paul is the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-3. Once we repent and turn our lives over to God intending to follow Jesus, we can begin to feel the growth of the fruit of the Spirit in ourselves. As we give up issue after issue to God to heal, we can feel the growth of love and peace in what we say and do. After more time, we experience joy often. And then, finally, as our faithfulness to God grows in us, we see the rest of the fruit of the Spirit become a part of us in the way we treat other people, all other people: goodness, kindness, gentleness, and humility. For the kingdom of God is not about us and what we want, but about how we live in community with our fellow human beings. As the nine elements of the fruit of the Spirit arise in us, we become a part of the kingdom of our Lord, and just one of His beloved people, serving Him and others out of our own humility and the ability to pass on God’s kind of love.


Questions to ponder over the week: How loving am I towards everyone I meet? Am I still judging others? Or am I treating them with goodness, kindness, and gentleness? What do I need to let go of in order to truly love others? Do I really love myself? If not, for what do I need to forgive myself?


Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who love all others, no matter what they have done in their lives. May we accept and forgive, value and love them always, as we truly get to know them.


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Two Announcements

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