While it is in no way controversial to say that humanity is created in the image of God, there is plenty of room for debate on what that reality actually means. Some would say that the imago Dei is our ability to reason, which up until recent scholarship, was thought to be what set us apart from other animals. Some argue that we bear the image of God in our ability to imaginatively create new things, be they tools, art, or technology; a form of creation ex nihilo. Still others would say that the image of God in each of us is the ruah, the breath, the Spirit of God at work in our lives. In reading the Acts lesson appointed for Sunday, I began to wonder if part of what it means to carry the image of God is that we were created to be impartial, just as God is.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul argues that the primary sin of humanity is idolatry, not as the worship of money or power, but of self, by placing one’s self in the seat of God and acting as judge against our neighbor. If God shows no partiality, which scripture affirms in both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, then when we are partial to ourselves, to our what we assume to be normative, to lift up the sin of another while ignoring it in ourselves, to turn a blind eye to our our prejudices and biases against those who differ from us is in color, gender, sexual identity, religion, or mental or physical capacity. All that run on Pauline stuff to say that every time we might choose to judge our neighbor is, in fact, rejecting our creation in the image of God.
Ultimately, this may be the sin of Adam and Eve that we carry within us to this day. It isn’t sex or nakedness, as the Puritans who founded this country would have us believe, but rather, it is that we were not equipped with the proper lenses required to discern good from evil. With the forbidden fruit consumed and passed on generation to generation, in coming to know the difference between good and evil, our understanding is inherently flawed. We can’t see as God sees, and so what we see through our own lenses as good might very well be evil, and what we see as evil, might very well be good. It is in the very act of making those determinations, of showing our partiality, that we fall into the sin of idolatry and reject the imago Dei within us.
In his sermon, Peter is clear, God shows no partiality, and that God is the only rightful judge of human beings. It seems like it would behoove us as followers of Jesus, made in the image of God, if we reclaimed that understanding, to give up our bigotry, and to seek to do what is right in the eyes of the one who created us in their own image, God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.