A few weeks ago in our Bible study, I was talking about how those who follow Jesus should relate to those who don’t. A couple of times I used the phrase “those people”. What an awful way to describe fellow human beings, and thankfully I caught on to what I was saying that night and began to make fun of myself.
I’ve been reading The Orthodox Church and it offers some great insight on this issue. It gives a general overview of history and theology of eastern orthodoxy. It has been refreshing to look back at a faith which in some ways resembles what much of Christian theology looked like prior to Augustine.
The follow describes some of the orthodox church’s views of humanity:
Because she or he is an icon of God, each member of the human race, even the most sinful, is infinitely precious in God’s sight. … This respect for every human being is visibly expressed in Orthodox worship, when the priest censes not only the icons but the members of the congregation, saluting the image of God in each person. ‘The best icon of God is the human person.’
What a meaningful way to see the value of every person! What if we never attempted to make distinctions between who is in and who is out? Who is true and who is not? No matter how far from God it appears anyone might have wandered, one can never escapse the fact that they are created in the image of God, and that still exists as a part of who they are.
Just to mess with your brain and mine, here’s a few more thoughts from the same book to really stretch the concept further:
Orthodox religious thought lays the utmost emphasis on the image of God in the human person. Each of us is a ‘living theology’, and because we are God’s icon, we can find God by looking within our own heart, by ‘returning within ourselves’: ‘The kingdom of God is within you’ (Luke 17:21). ‘Know yourselves,’ said St Antony of Egypt. ‘…He who knows himself, knows God.’