“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
Every human being is made in the image of God. One profound implication for us is that we will never meet anyone who does not carry that image. This means that they have inherent dignity as human beings. Life within them is the breath of God himself.
That inherent dignity demands the respect and care of all who love the image that they represent. And that is why Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these…you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40 NIV) In a very real sense, to ignore the needs of an image-bearer is to ignore the worth of the One they represent.
And nothing changes that dignity. They have dignity inside the womb, so that to abort that image-bearer is murder. They have dignity in their childhood and dignity in their elderly state. Therefore, James says pure religion is to look after the widow and the orphan and to meet their needs (James 1:27).
Hospitality is a recognition and respect of God’s image in our fellow man which seeks to meet their needs as we would want others to meet our needs.
Our obligation is not conditioned on their circumstances. That was the point of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The religious leaders wondered who their neighbor was and Jesus pointed out to them that the real question was, “To whom can I be a neighbor? The fact that he was a different race and a stranger and was beaten and nearly died on the road did not disqualify him from being an object of kindness. Poverty or race or social standing or education or any other category doesn’t put them outside the realm of our affections. As long as they bear the image of the one we love, we must show that love to them.
We have interactions big and small all across the social spectrum. How do you treat the waitress? The checkout clerk at the store? The toll booth operator? Your Neighbor? The family member in your own home? Do you treat them with kindness and respect? A little hospitality and kindness goes a long way in a culture like ours.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Additional Scripture quotations taken from Additional Scripture quotations taken from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
©2012 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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