A Japanese orthodox Facebook friend posted something quite beautiful this morning, that fits perfectly with something that I’ve been contemplating lately:
Question: Do you know why Orthodox monastics bow to the ground when they meet someone?
Answer: Because they see all they encounter as Icons of God, and honor the image of God in every person by bowing to them.
I don’t think bowing for everyone would be very practical, but I love the idea behind it, and I think it points to something we should learn about more as Western Christians: honoring the image of God in every human being.
God created humankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them,
male and female he created them.
(Gen 1:27, NET-bible)
I would call this ‘basic Christian humanism’: the idea that every human being is of infinite worth, because he or she carries the image of God. This idea of the imago dei was behind the first wave of what was called humanism in the Renaissance time (think people like Erasmus). It’s only much later that humanism and Christianity were disconnected from each other, and that ‘humanism’ became associated with atheism.
Every human might be fallen and affected by sin, but it’s also true that every human bears the image of God. From the mightiest president and the noisiest rockstar to the poorest immigrant and the tiniest baby. All of them. And that makes all of them, even the ones we can’t help but dislike or hate, worthy of respect. Even enemies deserve our love, as Jesus taught us.
No human being is worthless,
no human being is disposable.
Treating any human like that is blaspheming Gods image!
God, open my eyes,
let me see Your Image,
let me see Your fingerprints
on all of Creation
let me honor all glimpses
of Truth and Beauty
they are all Yours,
everything good and perfect
comes from You
praise to Father, Son and Spirit,
what do you think?