On the first day, God created light.
On the second day, God created the heavens and the earth.
On the third day, God created land and sea.
On the fourth day, God created the stars and moon.
On the fifth day, God created creatures of the sea and sky.
On the sixth day, God created creatures of the land. In a final display of creative brilliance, He formed living beings in His own image, His most brilliant masterpiece. He breathed humanity into being.
The human race continues to be God’s most prized creation. For each day after those first days, He has left His handprint on each of us in some small way. He remains our ultimate parent, knitting us together in our mother’s womb. One of the most beautiful things about us is that he made us all different. We are tall and short and brown and fair and healthy and frail. We speak to God in different tongues. Our eyes crinkle in different places when we smile. Some of us choose to acknowledge God in churches, others in mosques or temples, and some choose to not acknowledge God at all. We live scattered around this green earth, far but never too far from the eye of our Father.
But in some ways we are the same. Regardless of our most magnificent efforts or our most tragic failures, our childlike submission to Him or defiant rebellion, our love for other human beings or our intent to destroy—each one of us remain a beloved and cherished creation of God Himself.
I write this because today, not just in election season but in every season, I believe we are forgetting the essence of what it means to be divinely created by the living God. Of course, we may remember it—in a sense that we believe we are entitled to the best, or we lash out at God when we believe He is being unfair—how could this happen to me? But it seems that in this day and age we can open our Bibles to Genesis in the morning, then turn on our television and see armed men in turbans, nervously avoid eye contact the dirty woman who hangs outside of your grocery store and asks for money you don’t have, or find yourself silently agreeing with politicians who laugh and make fun of the marginalized, the maimed, the minority, the other.
Suddenly, it is an “us vs. them” world, and increasingly, it seems that America—the “nation under God”—has taken on the idea that somehow, others deserve less. And so we criticize hashtags that attempt to bring justice for those who have been oppressed, we beat our chests and wag our fingers at those “people” (if we are using the kindest term) who are stealing our jobs, terrorizing our streets, taking from us what we rightly deserve. Some want to go as far as putting a wall around the country, as if that this would say to the world: “mine.”
Tell me, what exactly did we do to earn this? What exactly did we do to be placed at this moment, in this place, at this point in history? How did we merit the breath in our lungs, or the blood that runs through our veins?
We don’t. It is nothing but the divine grace of God that keeps us here, in every moment. Our fragile humanity is but a breath, a wisp of the wind. As fictional President Francis Underwood would put it, we are entitled to nothing.
And yet, we find within ourselves the authority to claim ourselves as more deserving, more righteous, and more entitled than this “Other.” The same Other that God took His own hands to laboriously create, the same Other who God sent His son to die on the cross for, the same Other that God weeps for as He weeps for you and I in our moments of despair.
We live in a fallen world; this is true. There are laws and boundaries that have been set in place to protect us from the sin that struggles to choke out the divine spirit that also dwells within our souls. And while I am a believer in laws, in stewardship, in government—my heart cannot help but ache in pain when I see people forgetting what God so acutely remembers: that each of us are as undeserving of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness as anyone else. And if God chose to die for the world, He chose to die for all of us—the people we care about and the people we’d rather ignore.
So the next time you’re tempted to share that cartoon that mocks someone who might not look or talk like you, or to roll your eyes as someone advocates for the poor and oppressed, or to sit by and say nothing as someone threatens to condemn innocent people simply because they are different—remember that the God who lives and breathes in you is the same God who loves them.
Fear and ignorance are powerful motivators, but love conquers all. I hope you’ll take some time to remember and celebrate your divinely-inspired humanity and seek to see it more clearly in others.