Here is a talk I gave yesterday on being made in the image of God. Below is some of the material I shared:
Some guests were visiting an orphanage and shared the Christmas story with the children for their first time ever. They sat, enthralled, and were then given materials to re-create the manger scene. All was going to plan until one of the visitors spotted six-year-old Abu’s efforts – he had put two babies in the manger. He was asked to repeat the story, and he did so perfectly until the end when he made up his own version.
He went on: “And when Mary laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had anywhere to stay. I told him both my mamma and my papa are dead, so I didn’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him that wasn’t possible, because I didn’t have a present to give him like everybody else did… But I so wanted to stay with Jesus that I wondered if there was anything at all of mine I could offer him as a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus: ‘If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?’ And Jesus told me: ‘If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.’ So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him – for always.”
As little Abu finished his story, his eyes filled up with tears. He then slumped down on the table and began sobbing deeply. This precious little orphan had found someone at last who would never abandon him or let him down, someone who would stay with him – as he put it – for always.
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.
All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.
It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people.
You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.
But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.
Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.C.S. Lewis: —The Weight of Glory (HarperOne, 2001), pp. 45-46
Wow! That’ll change how you treat yourself, and your neighbour. Respect, dignity, honour…
Michael Parkinson once asked Dawn French during an interview what had given her her self-esteem and confidence in herself. She replied:
“I’ve tried to wonder what it was that gave me confidence from early on, and I can only put it down to my Dad. I remember that there was a night when I was going to go out to a disco, and I was really ready to have sex with anybody who wanted to ask me. I had some purple suede hot pants that I thought I looked great in. And my father called me into his office and sat me down, and I thought, “I’m going to get the lecture, blah blah.” And instead of giving me a lecture about what time to be home or any of that he just said to me, “you are the most precious thing in our lives and you are beautiful, and you are worthy of anybody who shows you any attention. You shouldn’t feel grateful for the scraps that any other girls leave behind: you should have the best.” And I went out, and in fact no boy came within ten yards of me! I wouldn’t allow them because they were beneath me. He just gave me a bit of self-esteem.”
Now this talk is about much more than self-esteem, although the lack of self-esteem is a feature of our broken society and culture. Hear this powerful story from a very different society and culture:
Johnny Lingo lived on the island of Nurabi, and he was one of the richest men in all the islands. He got that way because he was a smart trader. And Johnny Lingo was in love with Surita, who lived on the neighbouring Island of Kiriwadi.
If you were kind, you would call Surita “plain.”
Now on the island of Kiriwadi, they had a tradition, that when a man wanted to marry a woman, he would go to the woman’s father and bargain for the woman by offering a number of cows. The average woman on Kiriwadi went for 4 cows; the most beautiful woman on Kiriwadi had gone for 6 cows.
Sam Korad, the father of Surita, had decided he was going to ask for 2 cows for Surita, but that he would accept one.
On the day of the trading, all the people of both islands gathered to watch. This was the social event of the year. And imagine their surprise when Johnny Lingo offered Sam Korad EIGHT COWS for Surita! Everyone said, “He’s mad! He’s blind! Why would a man – a smart trader – offer eight cows for a woman he could have married for one?”
Well, here’s the reason. They got married, and in 6 months Surita had become the most beautiful woman in all the islands.
She had been given value. And she blossomed.
We all have the same value in the eyes of Jesus Christ. He paid exactly the same price for you and for me as he paid for Billy Graham or Mother Theresa or Simon Peter..
We are all eight cow saints. And so is everyone around you. The value of something or someone is determined by the cost someone is willing to pay, and God was willing to pay with the blood of his only Son, so that shows how much we are worth.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.Psalm 139:13,14
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his (Eliab) appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7
Simon the story about Dawn French’s dad really struck a chord. And the story about the little boy who had finally found a friend who would never forsake him.
Is there a follow up to this sermon
Thanks, Simon. Just finished Choose Life readings. Many helpful thoughts there. May God bless you, your family and your ministry throughout the year ahead.
Just got round to the latest podcast with Daniel today. I normally do my walk around the lovely Dumfries House while I listen. Firstly though came your Christmas talk that you have transcribed here about the orphan. I know it is not directly related to Burundi but having been there twice last time 2019, I could visualise so many of those wee skinny, dirty children who stood in only a t shirt. I think part of my heart has a Burundi shaped hole and oh how I’d love to return to see my Burundian brothers and sisters. In Gods grace maybe some day. But that story had me in bits. Not a good sight on my walk but luckily it was quiet . Just wanted to say how blessed I’ve been with your podcasts over the last year. Truly inspirational and uplifting. Thanks Joy