Why All Races Are Beloved and Made in the Image of God
- Anne Peterson Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2020 9 Jun
This is a crazy time in our world. With the recent killing of unarmed George Floyd, the world is taking inventory of their own views and beliefs regarding races. We sometimes adopt the views of our families, and sometimes that’s not positive. As adults, we need to educate ourselves and study God’s Word to see what God says about people. Because no matter what we were taught, or what we picked up along life’s journey, we could be wrong.
And that is the first step to changing any thoughts we might have that are incorrect. Realizing we could be wrong.
People have value. No matter where they’re from. Why? Because God made people. And God finds them precious.
Remember the song, Jesus Loves the Little Children by Clarence Herbert Woolston?
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world,
Red and Yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
Clarence wrote this song inspired by the story of when the disciples wanted to shoo the children away from Jesus. Jesus rebuked the disciples and welcomed the children with open arms (Matthew 19:14). Jesus was loving, just like his father, God.
God Made Man in His Image
When God finished creating the world (Genesis 1:1), God made man in his image (Genesis 1:27). I think when we think of God, we imagine He must look like we do. When we think of Jesus, we probably have an image conjured up that matches a picture that was prevalent in Sunday school classes. While there were no pictures of Jesus, still we might imagine he may have had long hair and loving eyes.
If we were to remember man is made in the image of God, maybe we would be less critical of people who look different than we look. All people are made in the image of God.
God is the one who decided to make all the races. He made one man for every nation of mankind (Acts 10:34-35). But even though we were all created by the same creator, we don’t act loving towards those who are different than we are (Malachi 2:10).
God Loved the World
All of us at one time or another have learned the verse about God loving the world. God loved the world so much he sent His Son, Jesus. And anyone who puts their trust in what Jesus did on the cross will not perish, but instead will have everlasting life (John 3:16).
That means when we go to heaven, we will see other races there. People who look like us, and some who look completely different. Our common bond will be that we acknowledged that we were sinners and we accepted the gift God provided. A gift that we can’t even boast about (Ephesians 2:8-9). All we did was take that gift. God does not hold one race above another.
When Paul referred to Christians, he said there was no distinction between those who were of a different race (Romans 10:12-13). And if we are talking about those who do not know God personally, we know that God is willing that none will perish (2 Peter 3:9).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/william87
God Wants Us to Be Accepting of Others
While God created us in His image, we are still all unique individuals. He didn’t use a cookie cutter. He wanted us to retain our differences. God chose every single characteristic when he created us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16). God even knows the number of hairs that are on our heads (Luke 12:7). Knowing that it was God who created us so individually, we can try to accept others who are different than we are.
God wants us to live in harmony with others (Romans 15:5-7). And when we start looking at others with a critical eye, God reminds us that we have something that distorts our own vision—a beam (Luke 6:42).
Lord, I’ve come to realize,
how critically I’ve trained my eyes,
to see almost exclusively
the negatives surrounding me.
Yet, Lord, with all that You embraced,
you focused on your Father’s face.
So Jesus, I am asking you,
help me see the world like you.
– Anne Peterson
God Wants Us to Be Merciful
Most everyone knows the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). When the disciples heard the story, Jesus asked them who was the neighbor to the man who was injured that two of the three people ignored. Jesus answered: the one who showed mercy.
God showed us mercy when we deserved judgment, and instead, God forgave us. So this means even when we think a person deserves for us to respond to them negatively, God does not agree. For we’re told if our enemy is hungry, we are to give him something to eat, and if they are thirsty, we are to give them something to drink (Proverbs 25:21). We are to extend mercy because we were shown mercy by God. And if we think we are not able to do this, God will empower us to do it. He never asks us to do anything He doesn’t equip us for.
Grace Wants Us to Be Forgiving
Even if someone offends us, God doesn’t let us off the hook. Instead, he reminds us that we are to forgive as Jesus forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). We are called to bear with one another, and even if we have a complaint, we are to forgive (Colossians 3:13).
Joseph had a good attitude even though he was unjustly treated by his brothers (Genesis 37). Years later, when they were reunited, Joseph could have retaliated for how they had left him for dead, but Joseph didn’t do that. Instead, he chose to forgive them completely. He even went further and told them what they had chosen for evil, God meant for good (Genesis 50:15-21). We always have the choice as to whether we will forgive or not. That’s because God gave us free will. He won’t force us to choose what is right, but if we are forgiving, God is pleased.
God Can Change Our Hearts
But some of us have lived with our thoughts about others for a long time. They’ve almost become part of us. How can we change something that has been with us for a long time? God started a work within us the moment we accepted Jesus as our Savior. Paul talks about this and reminds us that God is the one who started the work, and He will finish it (Philippians 1:6).
As we keep submitting ourselves to God, He is changing us. And even though we are surrounded by the world’s views, God reminds us we are not to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2). But the only way we can be transformed is by reading and applying God’s truth.
Sometimes our hearts become more pliable when we change our thoughts. For years, my father had blamed me for my mother’s death. My brother told me our mom called me from the other room. But since I had just spoken to her, I didn’t believe him, so I didn’t get up. She died two days later and when my brother told our dad, he said to me, “It’s your fault your mother is dead.”
I held onto resentment for years. Eight years later, my sister called to tell me our dad was in the hospital with cancer. I told my sister I couldn’t go. Peggy persisted, reminding me I already regretted not going to my mom. And so, I went. Standing at his hospital bed, no longer did I see the one who would rage at us, swinging his belt. Instead, God let me see a man who was hurting. My dad asked me to forgive him for not being a good father. And that day, God gave me the ability to forgive him.
Our world needs Jesus. Those of us who know Jesus, need to reflect him. Sometimes that means choosing to do what seems impossible. But God will be there to help us, just as he promised.
A Prayer for Unity
Lord, you created humans in your own image. Every person has value. Every single one. Lord, help us to accept each other, to show mercy to one another. Help us to be kind and forgiving. Show us how to be loving, Lord.
God, you’re the only one who can change our hearts. Help us to also change our minds. Father, you have told us that there is coming a day when all will sing a new song, and they will be there from every tribe and nation (Revelation 5:9-10). Help us, Father, so we can reflect your Son. For we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Evgeniia Siiankovskaia
Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker, and published author of 16 books. Her most recent book is Always There: Finding God's Comfort through Loss. Anne has published 42 Bible Studies and numerous articles with christianbiblestudies.com. She has been a regular contributor to Crosswalk for seven years. Visit Anne’s website at annepeterson.com and sign up for a free eBook or visit her Facebook page. You can also subscribe to Anne’s YouTube channel where you can watch her recite her poems and share her heart.