On the way to the office/study this morning, I saw a blind man bravely crossing a busy intersection, an overweight couple jogging onward in their valiant battle against gluttony and the downward force of gravity, and a hunched-over 80-year-old who was out plodding forward in his morning walk.
These are not examples of a sheer animal instinct to survive, but of a conscious human will to overcome. Animals and humans are different. Animals do not reason their way to choices for their own good (or the good of others). They instinct their way through life. But humans, on the other hand, choose their way through life.
The blind man bravely walking, the overweight couple refusing couch and calories, and the octogenarian putting one foot in front of the other, all manifest the dignity of those who bear the image of God; creatures who, like their Creator make conscious choices to do; even when the doing is hard. We are thinkers, choosers, and doers—and that is part of what makes us Human.
This is not a celebration of Humanity—and how cool and amazing we all are—but of a Creator-God who made us, and made us in his image. There is no reason here for the human pride that says “I can do anything I want to; and I don’t need God to do it”—for such pride is the mother of all evils. Rather, this is reason for wonder. For consider what God has done! He has taken dust, and from it made Humanity—male and female reflections of his dignity; majestic beings (see Ps. 8:3-6) who are empowered to make choices and do hard things.
To be sure: sin has marred and defaced the Image; but it has not erased it. No doubt, sin means that we need eternal (and costly) redemption, and a radical restoration project. But being created in the Image means that the dust that we all are, has both dignity and destiny.
A short reminder to us all, to find our redemption in Christ, to see who we are when we look in the mirror today, and to surrender our power to think, choose and do, to accomplish as much good as we can, in the face of whatever comes our way.