We began our discussion by sharing what we think society usually bases its judgement on of a person’s value and worth. Answers centered on their financial worth, their employment situation, how they dress or speak and what they own, where they went to school. Unfortunately society also counts their gender and race as factors all too frequently. We see this play out continuously in how some people are acknowledged in a crowd and other ignored. Studies show that women and non-white employees continue to be paid less then white men. We also discussed how sometimes when we meet a new patient in our practice we make snap value judgements based on some of these factors.
As usual God’s judgement is completely different than society’s. In the first chapter of Genesis we are told the creation story and how God pronounced a benediction of everything he created as good. We then read Gen 1:26-31a which is the pinnacle of creation when God creates man. He also was decreed to be good but we point out there is something different about man compared to the rest of creation. He was made in God’s image. We then discussed what it means to be made in God’s image. It is not that we look like God but that we, like a mirror, reflect God. When people see us we are suppose to be in a state in which people can recognize God within us. This is of course very difficult to do in our fallen state but it is our life goal.
What are the implications of being made in God’s image? We discussed two. First, its a declaration of your own innate value, dignity and worth. This sense of value and dignity is there no matter what your upbringing, accomplishments or any stereotypes people put on you. We discussed whether we felt this sense of value and whether there are instances in which you are challenged to remember your innate value instilled by your status as God’s image.
We also were reminded that this innate dignity and value is not placed on any other created thing. We reread Vs 28-30. This passage gives us dominion over the earth and we are to reflect God’s care and love for his creation. It was mentioned that mankind is not doing a particularly good job at caring for this creation but, regardless, it is still our role.
The second major implication of all humans being created in God’s image is that everyone else we encounter have the same status, value, dignity and worth. James 3:9-10 speaks to our tendency to praise God with the same tongue that we curse men who have been made in his image. We shared instances and situation in which we struggle to see certain people as being the image of God. Sometimes we have difficulty seeing those who are very familiar to us – family and friends- as being the image of God. We talked about why that can happen. It can also occur with those who are unknown to us or who are very different. We discussed why that tends to occur in us.
Lastly we spent some time discussing how our professional behavior would be affected if we could learn to see each patient we encounter as having the image of God.