Imago Dei On Display At The Games
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It’s my goal to explore every borough in New York City afoot. I’ve walked much of Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. I have Brooklyn and Staten Island to go. The cultures and languages in NYC vary from block to block.
I’ve seen an Asian man setting up a fruit stand with plums at 7:00 a.m. in Harlem. An older Spanish man recruiting me to his restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens. Three young women of color moving to a beat in the Bronx. A bus stop in East Harlem, where people of every nation buzzed like bees. A multi-ethnic group gathered around a man and woman playing guitar singing John Lennon songs in Greenwich Village. A white man from the Midwest (me) lost in Queensbridge at night in a downpour.
I didn’t just see those things, I paid attention, pondered and revered them, because that is what eternity and the new heavens and new earth will look like — the gathering of nations, peoples, tribes, and languages. It is also a picture of what God desires for His kingdom today — because the gathering of nations is God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
My wife and I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Tokyo. The racial and ethnic diversity in NYC mirrors the nations introduced at Olympic Stadium. They both mirror the gathering of the nations described in the Psalms, prophets, Matthew and Revelation.
Let’s zoom out and look at global humanity, because that’s what the Scriptures are referring to — and because it will help us see God better. It seems like Christians are so focused on our sisters and brothers in Christ and our identities in Christ, we forget that every person was made in the image of God. Every human in every nation bears the image of God. That’s staggering. There may be no Christian tenet more underrated and neglected than the Imago Dei, which is Latin for “image of God.”
The Imago Dei means that ethnic and racial variances are signs of God’s tastes and character. It means God is echoed in the languages, colors, and traditions of every culture. It means the diversity God has within Himself is displayed in various people groups. It means when the nations come together, we see God a little better than when we are apart. It means all ethnicities, not just some, reflect God’s concept of humankind. It means God made all of us with a mirror in His hand — Native Americans, Africans, Asians, South Americans, Indians, and Europeans, to name a few. It means each human life has a static and inalienable value. There couldn’t be a sharper rebuke to the notion that there are superior races than the Imago Dei.
Let’s go farther and look at what Jesus’ resurrection means about race and the Imago Dei. It means that our race won’t be altered or pass away, because Jesus’ resurrection body had the same Jewish ethnicity it did before He died. Like Jesus, we will be raised the same race. We will possess our colors and features forever, because they are good. Our ethnic uniqueness isn’t the result of unguided genes morphing, or punishment from Babel. But the good and enduring plan of a creative God.
In New York and Tokyo, there is a foreshadowing of days to come when God will gather His people from every nation, language, and tribe. When God’s master plan comes to fruition, we’ll be a kingdom and serve our God and reign on the earth (Revelations 5:9,10). But we’re not to put God’s kingdom on hold. If we do, that means other things have a hold on us.
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