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Walking Our Faith: We are created in the image of God

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson
Walking Our Faith
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

On Tuesday, I watched election results until 7:30 p.m. Then I turned off the TV and was in my pajamas and tucked into bed by 8. I downloaded the audiobook “All Creatures Great and Small” by James Harriet. 

It was comforting to be transported to the English countryside and a small village veterinary practice. The book is written with humor and warmth toward both man and beast. So it was the perfect antidote to what was happening in real life, as a presidential race too close to call unfolded through the evening and early morning hours.

I woke at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday surprisingly well-rested and calm. And it occurred to me that my decision to turn off the TV and enjoy a good book was absolutely the right one.

Although I checked my phone for the latest election results, I resisted the temptation to turn on the TV, instead choosing to enjoy the morning hours filled with classical music as I began my day at my computer.

As I write this week’s column, the outcome of the presidential election is still undecided. But what is clear is that no matter who stands at the podium and is sworn in Jan. 20, 2021, he will face a country firmly divided in half, a country closing in on the one-year anniversary of a pandemic, which has so far claimed a quarter of a million lives in the U.S. alone.

As I scrolled through social media, I was heartened to see messages of hope and unity and resilience offered by leaders in the faith community.

Then I ran across this quote by Thomas Merton, and it struck an important chord with me: “Speak words of hope. Be human in this most inhumane of ages. Guard the image of man for it is the image of God.”

If we are created in God’s image, what does that mean and how would it apply in this post-election turmoil that roils our country?

I believe it requires us to consider the qualities of God: He is loving, creative, just, forgiving, compassionate and patient.

Being made in God’s image means that God has not only imbued us with these qualities, he has given us the knowledge of knowing right from wrong and when we have strayed from the path of his righteousness.

Accordingly, God tells us:

“But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High. For he is gracious to the ungrateful and evil.” — Luke 6:35 CSB

“And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” — Ephesians 4:32 CSB

If we agree that we are created by God in the image of God, how we treat one another reflects how we treat God, our creator. Therefore, if we are followers of God, we must extend a hand of peace and understanding to others, as God has extended it to us.

During the uncertain weeks ahead, I hope we will ask God to guide us according to his wisdom and that we will seek his peace.

I pray we will endeavor to act in ways that would honor our creator. And when we lose our temper or lose our way, that we will ask forgiveness of God and those we sinned against and do better.

When our fear pushes us into anger, I hope we recall that the teachings of Jesus Christ are based on love, which drives out fear. That we treat our neighbor with the same fairness and dignity, which we want to be treated.

Let us endeavor to rise above our political differences, our need to win, to assert our advantage. Let’s look for decency and our common good rather than the differences that divide us. Let’s pray for one another.

“… and if my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” — 2 Chronicles 7:14 CSB

The Thomas Merton Prayer

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. 

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.


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