Joel Edwards considers the church’s record of living “in God’s image”.
The disappointing thing, the painful thing, but the real thing about Christian history is that, even though we have aspired to this idea of living in God’s image, we often fail palpably. And it doesn’t start with the humongous and historic examples of the Crusades and the missionary movements – actually it’s a little more personal than that. Me, and individuals who sit and occupy the pews of millions of churches around the world, reflect that tension in ourselves, that humanity, made in the image of God, aspiring to the best for humanity and for our neighbour, still fail, still walk past the poor and marginalised, still exercise attitudes of intolerance, still behave unjustly from time to time and need to correct ourselves.
And I think the great thing about the Christian idea of redemption is not that God allows us to wallow in past failures or inabilities to live up to that great idea of the image of God, but that even when we have failed historically – in the contemporary situation, when churches abuse children, now, in the 21st century – that God still holds before us that enduring idea that we are better than that. And so we are given another chance to reconsider our past and to reconstruct a better future in the light of this challenge: made in God’s image. It’s a lot more impressive than Made in China or something.