A book I’m reading right now on servanthood (which I hope to review in greater detail soon – stay tuned!) spent a long time discussing the doctrine of man as created in the image of God. Perhaps it caught my eye especially because the image of God is a part of the question I’m attempting to live in 2013.
In the course of the chapter, he has this quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory (emphasis mine),
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long, we are in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.
It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
The implications of the imago dei in those around us which Lewis highlights are astonishing and ethereal. Imagine walking through the world with the gentle awe required of one playing with immortality. Imagine being conscious that your every word, every facial expression, every act of listening (or not) is influencing the immortals around you.
A few weeks ago in Sunday School class, our lesson encouraged us to affirm someone else in the group. To say how something they’d done had blessed or encouraged or challenged us. There were a lot of tears as people shared – mostly little actions of which the other person might not even have been aware.
Having grown up in that church, I could look at nearly every person and recall a word of encouragement, a silent act of service, a moment of uncalled for generosity that took a part in shaping who I am today.
My teaching style resembles that of the youth leader and a Sunday School teacher I had as a child.
My first two jobs were given to me by people in that room – my first tastes of responsibility and money earned.
People of faithfulness whose example inspires endurance in me.
Two of my mentors and closest friends were sitting in that room, as were my parents.
I can see dozens of their fingerprints on my character, my personality, possibly my very soul. People who have nudged me in the direction of splendor, who have faithfully guided me from horror.
It is an awesome, ethereal thing to consider that we are taking a hand in the remaking of one another. For splendor, or for horror.