Going for a walk at the twilight part of the day is one of my favorite things to do. The light can take on a golden glow that is glorious to walk in. I can enjoy the walk and lose track of where I am and not realize how quickly it is getting dark and that I am going to have to walk home in the dark. I am thankful for my running jacket with its reflective stripes. When a car is coming at me their headlights reflect off of my jacket making them aware of my presence.
In the same way light reflects off my running jacket we are designed to reflect who we were created to be in the image and likeness of God.
Our true selves are made in the simple uncomplicated purity of being made in the image and likeness of God. We are made for fellowship with God. It is important that we are transparently who we really are before God, in order to cultivate depth of relationship with God.
Relationship with God is the real goal of prayer, of deep abiding, and friendship with Him. We all long to dwell in transforming communion with Him.
Our culture wants to distract us from our true image with the pettiness of being too attached to a consumer mentality. It is like we are walking in the dark wearing a black jacket, no one can see us, and we are not aware of how imminent the danger of being hit by a car.
There is much that is good in our culture, but at the same time, there is a lot that is detrimental to following the Gospel. We have all observed that our culture is spiritually illiterate, morally confused, a bit dysfunctional, addicted to violence, consumerism, and entertainment.
Jesus responds by calling out the effects of culture with His words, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth and rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Reflecting the image of God does not mean having more, but being more. Being more is about developing an attitude of lovingkindness, compassion, mercy, kindness, and sensitivity. These are the qualities that mirror our image in God.
We cannot discover and cultivate the likeness of God if we are obsessed with entertainment and consumerism. We have to pull ourselves free from this self-imposed complexity that clutters our souls and oppresses our consciences as it weds us to the impermanent. We must get ourselves free of the radical attachment to the impermanent.
If we are to be more deeply sensitive to the divine that our nature is designed to reflect we must remove the obstructions our culture has taught us. These obstacles hinder our capacity to be generous and unselfish. God is our teacher in healing and expanding our relationship with Him, with others, and ourselves by getting our focus off the here and now and on to the kingdom of heaven. He gives us vision for why we are here and where we are going.
It is only through striving to be the reflecting image of God that our relationship with God is single-minded and pure. This keeps us focused, our hearts undivided, and free of preoccupation with the lesser goods of this world. With this kind of commitment to a voluntary sense of focus our relationship with God can soar to the heights of union, communion, and effective acts of mercy.