A few weeks ago during Bible Study one Wednesday night, we were talking about the truth in Genesis 1:27, that we are made “in the image of God.” We forget that sometimes, so it’s good to remind ourselves: we are made in the image of God. (Even early on a Monday morning, if you can believe it.)
What we forget even more often, and in fact rarely ever think about at all, is that everybody else is made in the image of God too. Not just your friends and church family, but the driver who cut you off in traffic, the rude cashier at the grocery store, and the customer who complains about something that’s not your fault. It’s hard to believe, but even jerks are made in the image of God.
But let’s take jerkiness out of the equation for a minute. We also need to remember that even if a person has never blessed a church by stepping inside, and never been enlightened by a verse in the Bible, they were also created in the image of God.
So once we remind ourselves that even people who aren’t Christians were still created in God’s image, it changes how we talk to them and what we say. In effect, it changes our understanding of “evangelism.” Instead of simply telling people about God’s good news of redemption, we should challenge ourselves to find what God is already doing in someone’s life.
One British Baptist minister wrote recently that “the teaching aspect [of evangelism] has changed from the premise that ‘people know nothing’ to helping people make sense of the experiences people have of God, ministering some clarity to strange thoughts, encounters and feelings.” He notes that “more and more people are encountering the presence of God before knowing what that actually means or where ‘it’ comes from.”
So here’s the big takeaway for us: God was at work before we were here, is working still, and will be working after we are gone. The work of God didn’t start when we started it; we’re just blessed enough to join in.
The Christian author Philip Yancey talks about how your understanding changes when you start thinking that way: you go from “peddling the good news, to ‘hunting for the treasure’ already present in
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With that wisdom inspiring us, we will be inspired to listen more and to talk at less. When we do, we hear, learn, and notice amazing ways that God has been working in people’s lives. And then, we will experience the amazing opportunity to join that work.