I’d like to tell you about events that happened in my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina this past week:
My neighbor helped a motorist with a flat tire.
A teacher gave her struggling student a fist bump and a “you got this.”
Friends invited the “new kid” to sit with them in the cafeteria.
A young woman took a lonely widow out to lunch.
After filling her prescription, a pharmacist at Walgreens walked an elderly lady through the store and to the parking lot where her ride waited.
A Sunday School teacher went to the hospital every day to visit a sick child.
In Subway, a customer entered line behind a police officer and stepped forward to pay for his sandwich.
A teenager, who recently entered the foster care system with no possessions, was clothed with new outfits, shoes, accessories, and the love of Christ.
A hospice chaplain took on extra hours to offer her prayerful presence to a heart-broken family.
These events weren’t sensational enough to make the news, of course. Most likely, you didn’t hear positive reports broadcast this week from my hometown. I don’t mean to minimize the circumstances that prompt important and necessary discussions about race issues in our country. But I think we can agree that when it comes to the media-driven culture, negativity and drama are predominant, from the playing field to protests to politics. And sometimes my soul needs the kind of care which comes not from escapism or denial but from recognizing that God is still sovereign and still at work near and far. While I appreciate the American freedom of expression, these recent days remind me to intentionally look for other forms of expression – those ordinary actions which express God’s love for and through the people of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Perhaps you are like me, living a seemingly small-scale life that feels more ordinary than extraordinary. But this ordinary day is ordained by God to move you into a place where you can express His love as no one else can. When you help a person on crutches with her grocery bags, when you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a hungry person, or when you trim the widow’s shrubs, you are giving expression to the God-given dignity of every individual.
Regardless of developmental stage or ethnic/economic status, every person is the Imago Dei, created in God’s image. Persons who in faith receive His Son as Savior are also in a process of being transformed into the image of Christ, or the Imago Christi. If you are a Christ-follower, the fact that you can give expression to the Imago Dei and the Imago Christi is the most sacred, significant thing about you. If there were a heavenly news-reel, your simple, heart-felt actions would make the highlights. More than ever, cities like Charlotte need the hands-and-feet expressions of the Gospel, the good news.
Politicians can make speeches, players can refuse to stand, protestors can voice their perspectives, but the only form of expression which will truly heal originates and overflows from God’s heart –
Every person has worth, created by God with purpose. (Psalm 139)
Every person is loved regardless of status or performance or human standards. (2 Corinthians 5: 14 – 16)
The Cross radically transforms how we see and treat life – whether young or old; rich or poor; able-bodied or impaired; slave or free; white or black; weak or strong. The healing begins as we choose to follow the example of Jesus who gave His all for all.
Expressions of healing happen when we choose humility and kindness, when we direct our eyes from our gadgets to another human, when we give our time as a free gift, and when we listen more than we speak.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
The Gospel reconciles sinners to God and also person to person, community to community. Imagine our symphony of voices, each uniquely gifted, rising in reverence for Imago Dei in every person. God created you with something sacred to express, and your encouraging word, smile, prayer, open door, or gesture of forgiveness add to a chorus which can change cities like Charlotte one life at a time.
(Thank you, Pastor Alex, for influencing me and my family so deeply in our appreciation for the Imago Dei in every person and for encouraging us to create ripples across the waters.)