In chapter 1 of The Indwelling Life of Christ, Ian Thomas begins the book with a fictitious story of aliens who know they were fashioned by the God who created everything, but they do not know what God is like. Through their advanced technology, they have discovered the Bible, in which God describes the people of earth. In the Bible they read the following account:
“In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.… In the image of God He made man.” GENESIS 5:1
Thomas says, “Such a revelation is absolutely the most thrilling news these alien beings have ever heard. By getting a close-up view of humanity, they will be getting their first-ever glimpse of God.”
So, they build a spaceship and select an elite crew and send them on a journey of discovery. Unfortunately, as they arrive on earth and begin to look around, what they encounter are not image bearers of God, but rather drunks, inner city gangs, bars, TVs displaying world news showing terrorist and murderers, corruption in business and government, and the childish and foolish behavior by celebrities in the realms of entertainment and sports.
“The aliens stare in shock at the screen, until one of them turns to the others and says, “Let’s get off this planet. This place stinks.”
Ian Thomas said, “Of course, you and I know that what they actually learned was not what God is like, but what sin is like. Was there anything wrong, however, in the logic behind their expectation of seeing God on our planet? No, their thinking was entirely correct, God did make us in His image and likeness.” But, that is not the image they saw.
As we began our orientation program this past week, I asked our students, “How does this story relate to church planting?” We talked about the fact that the moment they get off the plane or helicopter and step foot in whatever tribal group they will go to, they will the first-ever glimpse of God to those people! And throughout their time their, what they do, how they act, how they relate to their coworkers, how they parent, how they conduct themselves in their marriages… everything they do will be the display of God to those they go to minister to.
I asked our students, “How does this challenge you in what God has called you to do?”
1 Jn 4:11-12 tells us, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” How we live, the love that we have for one another, “perfects” the image of God.
How “perfect” is the image you bear? What do people “get a glimpse of” when they observe your life? Do they see what God is like, or do they see what sin is like?