Reclaiming the Imago Dei: Reflections on the Atrocities Surrounding the Death of George Floyd

Watching the footage of the death of George Floyd at the hands (knee) of the police brings about two clear thoughts in my mind.

One is “Maranatha,” which is spoken by the Apostle John at the end of Revelation and means “Come, Lord Jesus!” The inherent evil on display in the world that shows itself in a myriad of ways makes me wish that Christ would come back and bring all perpetrators of evil and those who shake their fist at King Jesus to justice.

This is followed by the second clear thought: what must we as the Church of Jesus Christ do in the meantime? The Word of God is clear: we do not know the times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority (see Acts 1:7)–meaning, no one knows when Jesus is coming back to set up His literal kingdom on earth. The disciples, however, were promised power when the Holy Spirit would come upon them, and that we would be His witnesses from home to the corners of the globe (Acts 1:8).

Witnesses. The Church of Jesus Christ is called to be His witnesses, that is, to testify about the nature and work of the Kingdom of God (see Acts 1:3).

Christians have a responsibility in light of the events that happened in Florida, Minnesota, and anywhere else where the evil of racism rears its ugliest of heads.

The doctrine of the imago Dei is the cure for racism in the heart of the Christian, yes, and it is the call to fight these injustices. Imago Dei is Latin for “image of God,” as first stated in Genesis 1:26-27.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man[a] 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.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

All human beings are imagebearers of God. Without this understanding of God’s design, we risk feeling superior to others based on financial status, political party, gender, or (in this case) race. Yet, God has not made such a distinction of inequality. All are imagebearers.

Sadly, I wonder if our adherence to Darwinism has taken over our thinking without our realization. In 1871, Charles Darwin (1809-1882) wrote The Descent of Man which sought to build on the principles of his Origin of Species that classified not only species in order of inferior to superior, but of races as well.

The Western nations of Europe . . . now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors [that they] stand at the summit of civilization. . . . At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor [Hermann] Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state as we may hope, than the Caucasian and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.[1]

Darwin, The Descent of Man (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1889),105.

Granted, some have discarded Darwin’s racial tones while keeping the rest of his theory of natural selection. Yet, Darwin’s views run counter to the Scripture’s view of the imago Dei. There are no racial steps to climb in the evolutionary ladder. There are no “civilized” races by nature that give one superiority over another. This is an atrocious mindset that should be outright rejected.

Christians must internalize the atrocities of what is happening in our country, without question! We must feel sadness, brokenhearted, and angry. Yet Christians, regardless of color or denomination, must step forward with this clear understanding of all humanity being imagebearers of God and say, “No more! Everyone has value! In the name of Christ, we will stand up and speak up!”

May God give us wisdom and make us aware of every avenue to combat these injustices. Christ has rescued us from our sin and brokenness and made us aware of God’s design. Let’s spread that message of Christ rescue in the midst of these atrocities.

Let the Church stand up!


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