Friday, January 6, 2017

God In A Grocery Store

With even the mere mention of the slightest possibility of snow in our area, this news sends people frightened to the grocery stores to buy bread and milk. I have never understood bread and milk. If I'm going to be stuck at home with kids who can't go to school, I would prefer wine, but that's just me. I hate when this happens on a day when I normally go grocery shopping because it means what is usually stress-free is no longer so as shoppers race down aisles grabbing necessities as if it were all a zombie apocalypse waiting to happen.

After I dropped my youngest son off at school, I headed over to the grocery store to do my weekly shopping. Thinking that, since most people would either be headed to work or taking their kids to school, I thought I would be the snow-crazy shoppers in their panic over the few inches we may or may not get. Nope, I was wrong.

Once inside the store, I saw that my shopping was going to be a whole lot lighter. The produce aisle was fairly well-stocked (apparently vegetables aren't as needed as the fruit . . . Seriously, where were all the bananas?).

As I was navigating my shopping cart through the aisles, I was reminded of the word I had chosen for the year. Now I began to wonder if there was a more disgruntled form of joy, as well as made a mental note to pick an easier word for next year. What's a word that means: loves to read books and be left alone? Maybe "introvert" will be my word for 2018!

 So, with my chosen word resounding deep within me as a reminder, I began to reframe how I saw my circumstances and those around me.

What struck me was not a new realization, but one that poor Abba God has to keep repeating over and over to me in my disciple-like-thick-headedness: all of these people were created in His image.

When you stop and really look at the people around you in all their infinite variety, it is staggering to think that each and every one of them, in their own way, reflects the image of God in this world. Every man, woman and child bears the image of God in their design. If we truly kept this in mind, with all of our interactions with others, how much would it change how we treated them?

For each and every person on this planet to be made in the image of our Creator then this means that we are all of us connected by that Divine spark that dwells within every human being since the beginning.

In his book The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, David Dark writes, "Like the God in whose image people are made, people are irreducible. There's always more to a person - more stories, more life, more complexities  - than we know." 

But do we, in our daily drudgeries and routines, see them that way? 

Certainly it's easy to see the miraculous in a newborn baby, but not so much the guy who cuts us off in traffic. It's not as hard to think of someone who extends some kindness towards us as being Christ-like, but can we even begin to find the image of God in the terrorist? Or even the person we find politically abhorrent? Or the coworker or boss we don't get along with? Do we see our Heavenly Father in the homeless man or woman? The one holding the sign asking for money that claims it's for food but we suspect it will be spent on either alcohol or drugs. Or in the refugee? Or in someone of another religion? Or in those marching in a Gay Pride parade? In the Republican politician? Or the Democratic one? In the Pro-lifer or the Pro-Choicer? In the atheist or the fundamentalist? In the racist or the Black Lives Matter demonstrator?

Do we see God reflected in others that we don't see ourselves in? When our own thoughts and views aren't mirrored by them? Or do we just dismiss them with one of our labels for whomever we don't agree with politically, morally, religiously, or even on our favorite sports teams?

Sin and fallenness are aberrations. That is not how God created us. No, when He created us, He declared it as "good." We have violated the sacredness of His creation by our choices, by our degrading of others by how we view or treat them. That means I have to no longer see someone as other than myself. I cannot think of an "us" or "them" but only as one humanity created in the very image of God. 

"Spiritual identity" Henri Nouwen wrote, "means we are not what we do or what people say about us. And we are not what we have. We are the beloved daughters and sons of God."

That is why we must stop allowing ourselves these barriers that are rooted in fear because God has not given us a spirit of fear. Fear keeps us from truly being who God created us to be: Imago Dei. We cannot reflect God if we do not love as He loves. We must see people with His eyes: eyes of love, compassion, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. When we truly begin to do this, even to simply one person, then how much of an impact will we begin to see in our world? 

Can I do this for the woman who grabs the last loaf of bread from the shelf? Or the guy who pushes in front of me to snatch up the last jug of milk? Or bottle of wine? Or my favorite coffee creamer?

It's easy to claim that we see all as being created in God's image, it's completely another thing when we have to deal with these Imago Deis on a daily basis, especially in circumstances that tend to frustrate us. And trust me, if you, like me, can get easily frustrated then God will ensure that He puts them in your path. If you're someone who is impatient, then He will put that slow driver in front of you or the person in line who has more items than the two or three you have, but won't let you go in front of them and then they pay for theirs with a check (Who still writers checks in this day and age?)

Christians like to talk about being purified and tested in the fire, but they cannot stand it when that purifying fire is another person who is able to push their buttons by sounding like either Fox News of the Huffington Post. And realize that you may very well be that person for someone else.

But if we are to truly become Christ-like, then we most love with Christ-love and doing that is never easy, it's always sacrificial, and it requires us to see past the behaviors to the heart, to understand all long to be loved and accepted, especially by the God who created them in His own image. 

1 comment:

  1. Love this post too, Elliott. (I've added your blog to my list of fav blogs on my main blog page because I'm really enjoying reading it -- and am amazed how you can write so much of such high quality!!) I've written a few "checkout-line encounters" posts on my blog because I find it so interesting to observe people in public -- it shows me a lot about myself as well as them. Here is one of them: (OK, you can tell me if you want me to stop putting links to MY blog in my comments on YOUR blog because it actually is kind of lame...) Thanks again for your post; hope you and your family have a great weekend and do not run out of bread, milk, or wine.