January 19th 2009

Made in the Image of God

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.’”

Genesis 1:26 NIV

“Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jesus had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired of as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food). The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For the Jews do not associate with the Samaritans.)”

John 4:4‑9 NIV

The Samaritan woman of John 4 was from a race of people the Jews hated and avoided. On top of that, she was a woman with a bad reputation. So what was unusual about Jesus’ approach with this person any other Jew would have avoided like the plague?

Jesus, being God in the flesh, showed us God’s perfect love in action.

God does not respect one person over another (Acts 10:34), meaning that he does not think more of the Queen or of Barack Obama than he does of you or me. He deeply respects every person.

In Genesis 1:26 we read that God created humankind in his image, meaning that every person is made in the image of God. What Jesus was doing when he spoke to the Samaritan woman was recognising her worth as someone created as a bearer of the divine image.

When people today treat others in an inhuman way, they are disrespecting that divine image. Taken to extremes, this attitude can result in people being treated more like animals than humans, just as in fact happened with historical accounts of genocide and other atrocities.

But when we remember that all men and women everywhere were created in the image of God and we treat them accordingly because we really believe that, we love them as God loves us and we love God in the way that he wants us to love him.

And that’s how Jesus treated the Samaritan woman. That’s the reason he was able to have an impact on her greater than anything that had ever happened to her before.

Because when we recognise the real worth of all people, as God does, we bring the kingdom of heaven to earth.

Prayer

Loving Father, help me to remember that all people, not just my kind of people, are made in your image. Help me to bring your kingdom to earth by loving the humans you created as you want me to love them.

Amen.

Study by Peter Mill

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