B’tzelem Elohim means “Image of God”in Hebrew. If you do a direct english translation, it is “God depth”. What I want to talk about is the human component in which we experience and know God. I want to preface this with the fact that I believe that there is a divine mysticism that surrounds God. There are facets of Good which can be known, and there are facets of God that cannot be known, or at least not known fully. However, there is a depth within us that is in fact a reflection of the divine. I believe that there is something that rests within each and every one of us that mirrors that of which the divine’s essence is. In some cases, that is a reflection of the Divine’s love. In other cases, it is the reflection of divine justice, and yet in other cases it is the divine capacity to empathize and support one another. The crazy thing about it is that some of the reflections of the divine are also distinct components to what it means to be human. To be human is to be in community, which results in love, compassion, heart ache, pain, and all the other experiences that we hold in life. To be in community with another human being is to be in relationship with another human being.
Just as a relationship can be positive and bring so much joy, so too can a relationship be heart wrenching. As much joy as a son or daughter can bring to ones life, they can also bring immense amounts of pain to their parents when they continually make decisions in their life that are destructive to them. A parent who has to watch their child suffer through addiction or an abusive relationship or continual failure to show initiative is a parent who knows the heart wrenching points of a relationship, of a community. Enter love. Enter compassion. Enter grace. Enter forgiveness. Enter reconciliation. Enter the support of others who are going through that same experience. Enter the message of the Bible itself.
Time and time again, the divine addresses these components of communal relationship. The Divine addresses the fact that there is pain in the world by urging It’s creation to stand for the poor and the needy. The Divine urges It’s creation to love others. The Divine urges It’s creation to support one another in times of joy and struggle. The Divine urges It’s creation to lean into the human experience of joy and struggle. Through this component or relationship, not only do we gain a better understanding of what it means to be human by delving deeper into human joy, struggle, and emotions, but when we drive deeper, we uncover something that under girds it all. We find the depth of the Divine that rests in us all. The Divine love, the divine desire to support those around us. The Sacred flow that connects each and every one of us. When we accept pain and are vulnerable about it; when we are not able to run from it any more, but instead face it and wrestle with it, and struggle with it like Jacob did one fateful evening as told in Genesis, then we discover who we truly are. You see, we are truly a deep deep well that reflects the image of the divine. However, many people, when faced with uncertainty, pain, the closeness of a relationship, and even in some cases, unfathomable joy, they run. They try to hide. They run under their beds and hide like a child trying to escape punishment. They run from their pain by drinking until the pain is numb. They reject uncertainty by trying to find purpose in all the wrong places. They flee from relational closeness. They feel as though they don’t deserve to be filled with joy, so instead they find ways to self destruct. There is another story like this in Genesis.
Adam and Eve, when they realize their wrong doing, instead of facing their problems and wrestling with them, the run and hide, both literally and figuratively covering their nakedness/vulnerability.In fact, Jacob himself later in Genesis doe the same thing for a long time. He runs form his family and from his problems for more than 14 years, but when he decides to return, when we decides to face his past and be vulnerable to it, when he decides to accept it, it is then that he discovers his true self. His name changes from Jacob, meaning trickster, to Israel, meaning wrestles with God.
Moses experiences this same thing in Exodus. Here is a murderer who has run away from his moreland, run away from his heritage, and run away from his problems, until he notices a bush burning on top of a mountain. It is there that he is confronted with his past. He is told that he has been chosen to lead Israel out of bondage, but instead of accepting right away, he lists off all of the reasons why he CAN’T do it. We are all being invited by God to be free from bondage, both for ourselves and others, but first, we have to wrestle with the bondage. We need to wrestle with our doubts and fears. We need to wrestle with our pain and problems. We need to delve deep into it, and there, we find the Sacred Flow. It is there that we find freedom from that bondage. We find the deep, unquenchable source of love and compassion. We find the deep source of life that rests within us all. We find vibrancy and purpose in our life again. We find the lives of others flowing with us and around us and through us. We find the Sacred flow. We find the image of the Divine.
Grace and Peace,
This is a personal blog and does not necessarily represent the views of Community Church or any groups mentioned here