Can You Restore God's Image?
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” — Mark 9:33-35 (NIV)
Last, and the servant of all. Hard words to live.
Mother Teresa taught us about servanthood. She represents a host of believers scattered throughout history and the world, who will never be famous, will seldom receive acknowledgment for their service, but who are great people. Period.
How do they do it? What motivates their hearts? How can someone like Mother Teresa give up so much, spend so much of her life amongst the poorest, dirtiest, most forgotten segments of humanity?
“She went to gutters and garbage heaps, to places where humanity itself had been thrown away and left to rot, and she set to work patiently and tenderly restoring to people the dignity of being human...Mother Teresa’s days began in prayer, and after meeting God in prayer she went out into the streets of Calcutta to meet Him in the form of people...her primary goal was not to better the lot of the poor, not to alleviate the suffering of the sick, not even to save lives. Rather, her goal was to recover the image of God in people.”1
Mother Teresa accomplished her mission, one person at a time. Looking into the dirty, smudged faces of the sad, the poor, and the diseased (which is all of us in some form), she gently wiped away the dirt, cupping a small face in her hands, and smiling into those eyes, she communicated love and acceptance. And then, I just know, she saw the reflection of God; she restored the image of God in a person who the rest of the world would have thrown away.
Can we do any less with the people around us? People whose lives are marred and smudged with burdens that weigh them down and create anxiety, unrest, and unhappiness. Can we love and serve one such person back into God’s image? Can we walk out of our doors every morning and expect to witness God’s glory in the lives of our family, friends, and co-workers? Can we throw down our egos, our lives, our self-importance, and be the servant of all?
- Mason, Mike, Practicing the Presence of People (Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, 1999