There are times when I share a meal with prostitutes, johns, drug users, drug sellers, alcoholics, misfits, down-and-outers, socially ostracized, war vets and others.
Yet as I eat with them, as I listen to their stories, as I do my part to be the ears of Christ I recognize their innate Imago Dei-ness, that despite what they do and what they’ve done bear the image of God.
It also gives me perspective, that you can’t judge a book by its cover and that homelessness takes on all shapes and forms, there are similar stories but each one is unique in its own way. I never was one to say “well if they (referring to people who are homeless) get a job everything would work out for them” and yet some people spout similar rhetoric, apart from referring to a group of people as “them” (thus perpetuating my the paradigm I dislike the most – Us vs Them).
I won’t divulge any stories I’ve picked up in my time with being with these Imago Dei’s but I will say that when you have chosen engagement over judgment, when you have taken the time to simply BE…God opens doors and people open up their hearts.
One of my favorite Imago Dei’s is a woman who despite being a heavy drinker always greets me with a smile, a hug, and a kiss on the cheek. Now if I chose to distance myself from Donna* this would never happen, but because I embraced her Imago Dei-ness and remembering 1 John 4:19 when it says “We love him because he first loved us” and extending that love outwards I receive with relish the holiness that is Donna’s kiss and hug for me and I in turn return the favor which I guess is a holy embrace between Imago Dei’s. 🙂
There are other moments in my life where Heaven meets Earth in the form of people who love on me and I on them, it was easy for me and it can be for you as well if you shift your perspective off of who you are and your means and others and shifting your gaze to what matters to God, people matter to God.
*not her real name