I’m sitting in silence, reading the updates of my friends on Facebook. Some of these friends are relatively new connections, many with whom I have shared awesome God-driven moments. I look at their avatar and am reminded of small group gatherings, pot-luck dinners, baptisms, and walking across the stage to grab that late-in-life bible college diploma. Awesome memories.
But there are others in my social stream whose smiling faces, cropped square, elicit other memories. Some of these memories are mere flashes blurred by drunken stupor. Some are violent memories. Some are embarrassing – even shameful. But they are mine.
I wonder what they think when they see my status updates praising Jesus and revealing scripture. I wonder what they think when I share a church potluck event or a report of Sunday’s service. Do they see my avatar and remember that “me” whom I barely recognize or do they see My Father’s face? Do they patronizingly grin or do they marvel at how God changed me?
12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 13Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
(1 Timothy 1:12-16)
I am Paul and he is me. He knew what is was like to combat perceptions skewed by the person one used to be. He knew what it was like to be a new creature, with an unrelenting past. It is a past forgotten and forgiven by a God of matchless grace, but one that is at the edge of shame for the one who lived it. But from within that shame, each time it arises, a joyful song erupts – crescendos of gratitude and diminuendos of peace.
I am Imago Dei because He lives in me.