by Jim Wehner
We don’t read the Creation Account from the first chapter of Genesis very often anymore. It has lost some of its luster for our generation. The Church has spent years arguing over how we interpret these verses such that we often miss their eloquence. Culture has certainly let go of them as an origin story. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
I’m not sure how it happened, but I found myself in a conversation where two individuals were talking about these verses. They were skeptical churchgoers, people of faith who’d lost interest. I commented that these verses are foundational to us at FCS. One of them looked at me and asked, “You don’t really believe those verses are literal, do you?”
I responded that it didn’t matter. Whether we accept a literal interpretation of these verses or see them as an allegory, they contain foundational teaching. Each of us has the Imago Dei (Image of God) in us. This perspective is critical to the FCS mission. Everyone has value! God’s Image ensures this truth.
Suffice it to say this world can be unfriendly. People from every context get worn out, weary, addicted, and overlooked. These things mar the Image of God in the best of us. Add material poverty to the mix, and the difficulties simply multiply.
This is why FCS exists! We position ourselves in communities of great need, and we go to work pushing back years of bad assistance. Toxicity that denies the Image of God in every person has infiltrated our government assistance, our non-profit services, and our church benevolence programs. Charity that produces dependence
A few verses further tell us, "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." The Hebrew phrase for “very good” elicits force. It comes from deep down. It wells up in the soul. Not just good... very good. These words are a brief glimpse of a God who is pleased in his creation from the depths of his soul! It is the beginning of flourishing. And it is worth fighting for.
As we come to the Thanksgiving holiday, I find myself thankful not only for the community where I live and work. I find myself thankful for the team at FCS. Our staff and board is filled with passionate advocates for the image of God in their neighbors. They lend their skills, experience, and resources to support the flourishing of the community.
Do we need resources? Yes. Is our process and work perfect? No. But after all our work to study flourishing neighborhoods, I remain convinced that FCS represents one of the best models of healthy community transformation that exists. So we keep at it. Pressing into darkness and transforming a neighborhood and its people one house, one business, one relationship at a time. We want to see flourishing neighborhoods where God’s shalom is present because everyone has value!