Gen 1:26 "Let us make man in our image."
Many people observe God through nature. They can see his handiwork through the beauty of sunsets, trees changing color in the fall, or through snowflakes. These are tangible expressions of God. Some may even see God's beauty through the various animals,and creatures. The originality of a platypus, or the majestic blue whale. These again are beauty that can be seen and appriciated.
I have been thinking a lot lately in the beauty found in people. Not physical beauty but beauty of the soul. If man was indeed created by God there are His fingerprints on each of us. Now I fully believe that we are sinful people and have a will of our own and do horrible things. But, I do believe there is beauty found within people.
It is very easy for us as humans to be around people that sound, smell, think, and live like us. No matter what our culture is we tend to gravitate to those that reflect our way of living. It is difficult for us to be around people that don't look at the world as we do. It is difficult not to become frustrated and call people ignorant, misguided, or just plain wrong. I believe that our view of God is directly affected by this. When we are only around people just like us who believe in God the exact same we do, this becomes the only picture we have. God must be this way because all of my friends believe this.
Prejudice may be one of the biggest obsticles we as people face. Prejudices can be against race, economic status, people that are handicapped or just stupid people. Pride swells up and the thought of God loves me more than these because I am smarter, more educated, or have it together is common place.
But what happens when we allow ourselves to listen, engage, and be learners from those unlike us? What happens when we sit at the proverbial feet of those who previously we thought we had little to learn from?
Recently I have gotten to be friends with Eli, Eli grew up a gypsy. I had never met a gypsy before and had all sorts of pre concieved ideas of what a gypsy was. One of the most important concepts he told me that gypsys have is family. The other is faith. His upbringing looked a whole lot different than mine, his rituals, and even his way he viewed life was different. But as I listened to him, I began to see the beauty of Eli's life. He is a man of faith, he is a man of morals (very similiar to mine). But yet he is someone who I could say all sorts of nasty things about because he doesn't look like me. In our blossoming friendship he has already challenged me in some very good ways about my own life.
Don was a man I met via craigslist who bought a drum set off of me. We were in a parking lot in the middle of a rainstorm when he told me he bought the set for a son who wanted to play in church. Immediately I told him I was a pastor. He then for 15 minutes told me his journey from the church, . through some poor choices he had been ostricized. Don was a drummer like his son, and had been playing and worshipping God at home through his playing. As I was freezing, I was able to say a couple of encouraging words but again I could see God's work through Don.
Joe was another man I met via craigslist. He was a tough steel worker. He had picked up a table I was giving away. Joe had wanted it because he remakes junkie tables and makes them into something beautiful. Joe happened to have a zip drive with former projects and proudly gave them to me. Spiritually came up and Joe shared how he use to be Catholic but he had been going to a nazerene church with his wife. In a steel worker tone he told me he needed God taught in a practical no-nonsense way. He was very confused by catholism but had wanted a relationship with God. Through my conversation with Joe I again realized that God was working in Joe's life in a totally different way.
One last story, I met Garry last week at a storage auction. Garry was an African American man about 45. I had never seen him before and but he seemed very friendly. After the last unit was auctioned off Garry made a comment about my signature crocs I wear everywhere. So not letting a conversation escape I asked him if this was the first time he had been at an auction. He told me yes, and I am here because I fell on some hard times. I was a little confused and I asked did they auction off your unit? He said not here but at the next auction (they did numerous different storage units) they will. He then shared that he had been in California for a while and his son was to keep paying on the unit but had stopped to buy a car. So all of Garry's possessions were to be auctioned off. Immediately I knew I had to do something, but I had to get home so I couldn't buy the unit for him. There was a friend of mine at the auction and I usually don't bid against him as a courtesy. So I approached him told him Garrys story and asked if he could either let Garry buy the unit or buy if and let Garry get the personal belongings out. He agreed. Garry was thrilled. He then asked me if I bought storage units for a living? I told him nah I am a pastor. He then said I knew it, there was something about you that just glowed. Garry texted me that night and said I got my stuff back. I have no idea what happened other than God worked.
I fully believe God works through us every day, He has created us and expresses beauty through our souls. But it so easy to miss this when we are prejudice or so wrapped up in our own problems.
I love the different ways God has expressed himself but one of my favorites is through other people.