It is Black History Month, and there is sure to be many controversial conversations, various barbs, racial contests, inequalities and civil rights narratives served up as reminders the wrongs done to my culture of people throughout history. I wanted to provide my narrative on what the real fight is about? It dawned on me, that as society moves and chooses to jump on board with honoring the various parts of America’s history, black or white perspectives being irrelevant in my view, people are craving the restoration of something lost. When I consider the platforms set up by men in the form of government, civil right groups, religious groups, and other social distinctions, it is obvious that they are all seeking something that once was, but is no longer prevalent or relevant in many societies. Hidden beneath all the rhetoric spouted from gnostic pulpits, college campuses, equality crusades, gender movements, etc. etc., is a desire to restore something that has been lost. What restoration are people are seeking in these movements, ideals, and struggles? What exactly has been lost?
In answering these questions of where it went wrong, why the struggle of Black America, why is there a fight for equality, or where the dignity, self-worth, the human governing is power, etc. Many will start with things like slavery, how America was founded, the corruption of our forefathers; the catastrophic sphere of a once united America, Racism, and Civil Rights movement, on and on it goes. With the effort of wanting to restore what has been lost to a race, group, kind, or culture of people.
The problem with these efforts is it doesn’t go back far enough, because what is being addressed is still symptomatic of a deeper-rooted issue. That issue is the fall of man and sin (oh yes, the same old root cause to every issue man has). We can’t go back to slavery 1600-1800’s, not far enough, we can’t go back to the Civil Rights movement of 60’s, not far enough, we can’t go back to even the founding of this country, not far enough. To restore what is lost, one would have to go back to the beginning in the Garden of Eden to understand why we have these issues today. Then move forward to grasp what has been done to restore what was lost!
All humans (not just black, white, etc.) are made in the image of God regardless of the color of their skin or the historical framework (which I don’t cast aside) of which we are derived based on our various ancestral histories. I don’t expect everyone to agree but, I just ask you to consider the perspective. I will be the first to state, I do not disregard Black History for after all, Paul himself warned about things of history concerning Israel. He stated, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11 May we learn history was written that all of the turmoil, division, good and bad so, we might not make the same mistakes as our respective ancestors/forefathers did.
There are all sorts of injustices worth fighting for but, the end goal is not get some equal footing (which is still undefined on what that looks like) concerning the inequalities of the underprivilege or the preferred class of people, etc. But, it should be turning people to truth! The truth is as human beings we have fallen away from the Sovereign God and in our fallen state, we seek dignity, self worth, which has largely been focused on men, the struggle, movement, or an ideal and not God. In other words we have chosen to seek out an image that is not of God, but of men.
We find the phrase “image of God” in the first chapter of the Bible. When God first created humans (not races), He made them in His “image” and after His “likeness”. These words describe how humans in some way reflect the character and nature of God. To understand the meaning, we must look at the context in Genesis 1:26-28: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Leaving aside the question of God speaking in the plural, the main question here is what the text means by God’s image or the Imago Dei (from the Latin). It is often suggested that the “image” is tied with humans being personal, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and relational beings like God. Others suggest that the “image” is tied with humans being creative like God. While we are like God in these ways, they do not get to the central point of the “image” in Genesis 1. That central point is not hard to figure out. In the midst of God’s blessing, He commanded humans to do two things: (1) reproduce (“be fruitful and multiply”); and (2) rule (“fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion”). The word “dominion” is paired with having children and subduing the land. Adam and Eve who were created in this very image were to fill the earth with “godly” offspring and glorify God through their rule on the earth. So, the image of God provides humans with an identity as rulers, and this carries with it the function of governing creation in a manner that honors and glorifies Him.
Then comes the fall in Genesis Chapter 3, where suddenly, the very “Image” of God and the adherence to being subjected under the rule of God became distorted/lost because of sin, now any self worth would come from being superior and making those around you feel inferior, rule over the earth would take on an entirely different model, subduing it with children (through marriage) founded by God Himself, would also become blurred! Now everyone else is to blame instead of taking responsibility for our own actions before the God of creation, who we must give account to. Observe the following passage after Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden, beguiled by the serpent:
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so, they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate…”
With the sinful action of Adam and Eve, here we can plainly see the distortion of God’s Image suddenly lost. The blame game, and finger pointing starts when accountability comes. Stop and consider this very act throughout our history as we know it. Constant finger pointing and suggesting it is someone else that is at fault. We have women wanting to be the dominating gender, you have men standing by, and doing nothing as we see bastard children being born outside of marriage. You have all the social distinctions throughout history that point the finger at one thing or another that has caused the struggle that many fight for today, that they feel is right. Why? Sin has distorted the image of God. Along with the fact that any self-worth and dignity was lost in the Garden after the fall. Now racism is thrust into the bowels of history separating, distinguishing color not culture of people. Superiority complexes, rule and governing laws have been set up to keep control of what is simply put, “fallen man.”
Humans have turned from worshipping the One in whose likeness we are made and instead have turned towards idols. Paul says, sinful man “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:23). Though man is made in God’s image, he has turned from God to false images, even images of man himself. This is a sad attempt to worship a sullied image. Instead of worshipping God and reflecting His rule over creation, fallen man now worships creation and all that it offers. In the process of going down such a road, they deny God, and no longer properly reflect His image.
Despite man’s sinfulness, scripture affirms that God’s image remains intact. The image is marred by sin, and humans do not completely fulfill God’s original intent. Man’s rule over creation experiences frustration. The relationships among men are severed, because of the pride or the feeling superiority. The good news is that God in His grace has restored His image through the finished work of Jesus Christ. God does this because Jesus is the very image of God. Paul makes this claim: “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15). In another place, Paul states “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Things have come full circle. God made man in His image, and Jesus is the perfect man— fully human and fully God, thus the perfect image of God. Moreover, God has restored what was really lost, that many are seeking, but looking in the wrong places to find. This is His image in us, by conforming us to the image of Christ. It is through union with Christ that we are made like Him. Once I come to Jesus Christ through the finished work of the cross by Faith, through repentance, then the image which was lost and scared by sin is now restored in Christ Jesus, the Lord. I can take my rightful place under God and then rightly take the vices that He has given me on this earth that I might glorify His name. How? Because God said: “ Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old, behold I will do a new thing…” (Isaiah 43:18-19) That new thing is found in Jesus Christ “ Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
You see it is not matter of an ideal, what we do or don’t celebrate, what we choose to believe in or fight for, all because of someone’s sin or our own. History has spoken “Black History” or any component of history that we celebrate. So, I conclude that, “human history” and the fall and restoration of man back to God is the real struggle.
If we would only consider the entire struggle for our self-worth, dignity, etc. it can only come from our restoration to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord who is the Savior of all men! Then we can truly overcome. Since the fall, man has been lost and trying to find a way or that something that will give him worth again. Choosing Jesus Christ prepares us to be real agents of change in a fallen world. He will give us the power to do and live according to what is right, not according to what is expedient, because we can take our rightful place again under God, that we might glorify the One who made us and Saved us not only from ourselves but, from His wrath! The provision has been made by God; the provision is the Cross of Jesus Christ. Will we as a human race, quit pointing the finger at history? Will we turn to the only true source that can fully restore and redeem that which was lost through Jesus Christ who provides us with full restoration, dignity and self-worth before a Holy God?
After all, at the end of the age as we know it, no one will remember in eternity racism, or the plight of the “Black Man” in America and how history did us wrong. It is only my Father in heaven who can right every wrong and bring judgement to those who have rejected His offering of Salvation. My duty as a faithful servant is point people to Jesus, not to address the social struggle. Because unless there is a change of heart (that only God can do) no law, rule, or governing group/body will change the hearts of fallen men.