This cartoon, "Jesus Eraser", is one of my favorite depictions of Jesus. Here's the reflection that the author, David Hayward, chose to post alongside the cartoon:
"The more violent the world becomes the more impossible unity seems, but the more necessary it is."
Lately, I've been reflecting a lot on these verses, from the writings of Paul:
"You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being constantly renewed in knowledge in the image of your Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God your Creator through him." Colossians 3:9-17
I love the idea of the "new self"; a transformation we can choose to claim as our own identity through faith, when we believe that Christ died on the cross for each and every one of us. There's nothing we have to do or could ever do to earn that grace, but it should transform us and everything that we do! The idea of being constantly renewed--don't you long for that feeling on the days when you feel run down, lonely, stuck in a rut, or just plain tired? I do.
Just take a second to pause--posé--and take this mantra in. Say it in your mind. Say it out loud. Say it to another person, if you dare.
"I am created in the image of God. You are created in the image of God. All people are created in the image of God."
Think about this verse, about the cartoon, and about other verses that talk about Jesus' life or the Body of Christ. I absolutely don't believe that as Christians we should cease to recognize or acknowledge the differences between different people. The image of God is present, living on earth, living in us, in all of its infinite, endless uniqueness! And that diversity should be ecstatically celebrated. But I do think that we need to flip over our pencils and start erasing. We need to do away with the lines drawn in the sand. We need to do away with thinking 'us or them'. During Jesus' ministry on earth, he crossed every line that there was to cross! This verse calls out some of the 'us or them' lines from his time: Gentile or Jew. Slave or free. But these lines are just as present, and this verse just as relevant, to us today. Those who agree with us, or those who don't. Those who have power, privilege, and platform, or those who don't. Those who have access to basic living needs and human rights, or those who don't. Those who are heard and seen, or those who aren't. Christ is all, and is in all.
Compassion. Kindness. Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Forgiveness. We would all say these are good things. But these values don't exactly rule our society, our world. They don't even come first in many of our day-to-day actions and interactions. Going to these things first, focusing on others rather than on ourselves, especially when we're challenged or outside of our comfort zone, isn't easy at all. We've got to get back to the very center, the very heart of what it means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus: this radical, out-of-the-box, boundless, selfless, unconditional love. For all people.
I want to leave you with this thought, which was inspired not only by Colossians 3:15-17, but also by the words of Archbishop Óscar Romero: Peace is not silent. It's not even quiet! Self-consciousness has nothing to do with peace. Peace is singing to God from the center of who you are, in thankfulness, in joy, and in the knowledge that you are made in the image of your Creator, to follow in the footsteps of your Savior. And at the same time, peace is recognizing that every person around you can also sing their own unique song--if they are free to do so--and listening. I think that oftentimes, we confuse peace with tranquility, but I see them as two distinct and different things. Teaching and even admonishing one another is a part of that peace. Calling one another out, not to be right or to build up our own ego, but calling one another out in love. What does it mean to let the peace, the message, of Christ dwell in us richly? I think it means engaging with an endless, diverse body of stories and perspectives. I think it means drawing on collective wisdom from a whole myriad of cultures and religions. I think it means seeking out new questions, new things to learn, and a willingness to change your mind. To be transformed by the renewing. I think it means there are no easy answers. I think it means radical, humble open-mindedness. I think it means listening to understand before we listen to respond. I think it means crossing lines, knocking down barriers and being erasers. I think it means turning the world we are so used to upside down. In the best way.
Seek that peace and love, camp fam. Do that internal work.
VLM Communications Coordinator 2018
Summer Staff Alum 2011-12