Sometimes when I read the Bible, I am amazed I can read it at all, considering the distance and differences between that world and our own. But just as the distance seems greatest, I recognize across the centuries, in the stories and personalities, something startlingly familiar. When the millennia, and all the advances the ages have brought, are peeled away, what is it the kinship that remains?
What is it to be human?
Go to Gaza or the West Bank, to the strife-torn regions of Africa, to Ireland, to the Balkans or to any other place of well-dug-in conflict—shoot, maybe the church—and find two enemies. Any two enemies will do. Now, look into the concerns that fill their days. Dig down just past their conflict. You will find a love for their children and families, a strange hope and dread for the future, a longing for place and purpose and respect. You will see the humanity they would deny in each other. For that matter, look into the depths of their rage and hatred, and there, too, you will find their kinship, for it is not only the light in our souls that make us human, but also the secret shadows of our hearts.
Scan the radio dial—from country to classical, hip-hop to alternative rock—and listen to the heart of the music. You will find through all the rhythms and melodies remarkably similar messages of anger and brokenness, of longing and love. You will find in all of the different styles the wondrous human gift for singing our pain and hope. You will hear what it is to be human.
Peel away all that separates us, and look into the depths. And when you reach sin’s darkest scars, keep going still. Keep digging, and you will find it—that being that is human, that essence that sets us just a little lower than the angels. Imago Dei, they used to call it—the image of God. Every Sunday it is from that place that we seek God, and every Sunday it is to that place that God’s Word comes with healing and grace.
This Sunday we will talk about that familiar story of the Samaritan who was good and gracious, and we will consider a bit more what it is to be human, truly human. I hope you’ll be here.
In Christ, Rev. Mark Westmoreland