The realization that all people are made in God’s image challenges Christians to radically rethink relationships, says an expert in international development. The story of creation in Genesis is familiar and beloved: Everything was formed with care by God’s hand.
But when it came to people, there was something altogether different. People — all of us — are made in God’s image. Every last one.
It’s a startling realization that calls us to reassess our relationships, says Jayakumar Christian, a former social worker in India and authority in faith and international development with the humanitarian group World Vision.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.—Genesis 1:27 NIV
How do you treat the person on the street, your neighbor, workmate, spouse, or child who’s made in the image of God? How do you treat yourself? And what must you do for people around the world who suffer and those who don’t know their own worth — they were made in the precious image of God?
Follow Jesus’ example in relationships
Jayakumar suggests five ways Christians — both as churches and individuals — can build relationships, deepen expressions of faith, and join God’s work in the world.
1. Get personally involved with people in need in your community. The best way to understand poverty is to spend time with the poor, who have much to give and teach us. Follow Christ’s lead in developing relationships with the poor.
2. Seek transformation — in yourself and others. Be open to what God is doing; it’s better and bigger than your plan.
3. Grapple with the root causes of poverty. Seek out the best sources of information. There are no easy answers, but love never fails to bear fruit.
4. Use your networks and opportunities to share what you learn and experience. Too often the church is the silent spectator to poverty. Speak out.
5. Remember, you are the steward, not the owner, of your gifts, talents, and assets. Don’t waste time with small goals and challenges. Follow Christ’s lead in developing relationships with the poor.
Dr. Jayakumar Christian is the author of “God of the Empty-handed: Poverty, Power, and the Kingdom of God.”