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Monday, April 28, 2014

Namaste

I've always been enchanted by the word "Namaste."  I've heard several descriptions of what it means, but it's my understanding that it's an acknowledgment of divinity in another person. Like, "the God in me greets the God in you."

And I've been thinking a lot lately about Genesis 1:27: "God created mankind in his own image."  Mankind. That means all of us. That means we are all "image-bearers." Every single person you encounter as you walk across this planet bears the image of God.  Wow.

What an honor. God made everything: plants, trees, animals, fish, bugs, rocks. But none of it was created in his image except us. That's amazing. And I think there's a hint in there for how we are supposed to treat each other. Every person I meet bears the image of God. I need to treat them as such. Honor is due, dignity should be preserved; there is God in each of us.

That's why "Namaste" is so appealing to me. It's such a beautiful reminder of how precious each and every person is. That each and every person is important, valued, amazing. Each of us carries a bit of the divine.

I want to live out Namaste. I want everything I do to honor those around me. To honor God, both him directly and the reflection of him I see in others.  This affects how I treat people, how I think about them. If I truly believe every single person bears God's image, it helps me treat others with dignity, not to treat anyone as my enemy. It certainly helps me love them like Jesus loves them.

And I think this is how sparks catch.  We hosted our Stand with Me movie showing last week. It was amazing. I was so humbled by how many people showed up, by how many people left with tears in their eyes and by the stories I heard in the days that followed of conversations people had and how they are choosing to take action.  The God in the people who attended the movie recognized the God in the kids who are being enslaved, in the men and women born into bonded slavery. When we see people in their dignity, we can connect with them. My movie-goers chose to love. Namaste.

But what about those who are different from me? There are the folks that my culture says are "less worthy." How about the working poor? People experiencing homelessness? Drug addicts? Criminals?  If I believe what God has said, that he made all of us in his image doesn't that change the perception? Can we find God in the face of the person holding the sign on the street? Absolutely. My patients at work are often going through detox to get off of life-destroying drugs and alcohol. I can absolutely see God in them sometimes.

And how about those who oppose me? People who tell me I'm wrong - either about God or about the things I write about on this blog? The folks who tell me I must not really love Jesus because I have the wrong ideas about politics.  Yup - God created them in his image too. I can find God in them too. And I am bound to treat them in a way that honors that God in them. It hurts both of us if I don't. It hurts Jesus when I don't.

You know who I've seen God in a lot over the past few years? My dad. He's been fighting cancer for what feels like forever. He's not even sure he believes in God but I sure see God in him. The man's medical history reads like an encyclopedia of everything that can go wrong with the human body (including accidents like having an industrial copier fall on him and push him down the stairs!) yet he faces every obstacle with an amazing positive attitude. He's told we don't know how much longer he has, yet he still does 45 minutes on his elliptical machine, just because he still can.  In the midst of his struggles I see him helping others, I see him working all day long to wrap up loose ends so that my brother and I won't have to deal with stuff after the cancer takes him.  He once signed up for extra testing that will never benefit him, driving an hour and a half into Boston over and over just so that someone else can benefit from research studies. He worked on voice-recognition computer programming after his stroke because he wanted others to be able to make the same progress he did.  He sends "thank you notes" to his entire team of doctors and staff.  Namaste.

Imagine how this world could be different if we truly embraced Namaste. What if we lived in a way that proves we believe Genesis 1:27, that we actually think that every single person we encounter bears the image of God and not only deserves dignity and love but has the capacity to teach us something? I imagine that must be what heaven is like.

Namaste, my friends. I see God in you. It's what makes you amazing, powerful, honorable, dignified. My prayer today is that you will not only see God in those around you, but in yourself. You are an image bearer of the God who created the universe. How incredible.

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