It was about 8’O clock in the evening. I was standing near one of the crossroads near my house waiting for someone. As I was standing, a little girl came towards me. She must’ve been around 7-8 years old. In her hands was a plate. On the plate there were two lamps and a picture of a goddess. She came to me and raised the plate. So, that I can bow my head to the goddess and receive my blessings.
Such a scene is not at all uncommon around here. In fact, it’s a gesture of good will. However, whenever something like this happens it is my general practice to politely refuse to bow and send them away without thinking much about it. The reason is that I respect them. Now, it might sound paradoxical that the reason for refusal is respect. Because, to deny a polite offer is in fact very much close to being disrespectful. But my reasoning is like this: If I bow my head before the gods they worship, I am in fact a hypocrite and acting contrary to my beliefs. If I act contrary to my beliefs, I am ridiculing all the people of faith in the world saying, “Your beliefs are not worth holding onto! In fact, the present circumstances ought not be judged and dictated by an eternal creed.” So, if a person comes up to me, following his/her own creed, offering me to receive my blessings from their gods, then I must politely refuse and act according to my own creed.
But anyways, let’s get back to the incident that we were talking about earlier. When the little girl came and stood before me, I was stunned. Because something happened that had not happened in all the years of my life after the day I had chosen to follow Christ. I almost heard the sentence, “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
I could not move or even bat an eyelid for a few seconds. The little girl before me was beautiful. Innocence was beaming from her eyes. All the excitement of being given such a great responsibility was overflowing on her face. Her childish frivolity had not yet vanished completely from her conduct and yet, she managed to approach me with a sincerity that only a child can apprehend. All of this, happening at not a moment’s notice caught me off-guard.
Regaining my composure after a couple of seconds, I followed my general practice and politely refused. But this time, I said “God bless you”. How could I let her go without blessings, when she had taught me so great a lesson?
You see, she was an image-bearer. In the plate in her hands, was a picture of a goddess and two lamps. Having received this image, being told to carry it from person to person, place to place, had her excited in a way that it was the greatest thing that happened to her. The way she carried it with sincerity was exemplary. This little girl from another faith had taught me much more in a few seconds than I could’ve learned by reading a thousand books.
During the afterthoughts of the incident, I was plagued by a singular question. What kind of image bearer am I? Am I as excited, as sincere, as honest, as humble as she was? I who claim to be a Christian, an image bearer of the living God, the follower in the footsteps of Christ, I, who claims to be these things really live up to that mark? Sadly, I have to answer that question in No. Some introspection is certainly in order but that doesn’t mean all is hopeless.
Regarding Jesus, John says, “In him was life. And life was the light of men.” Regarding us, Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” These words are not empty. These words are the light that shines in the darkness. It doesn’t matter where one is in his journey to imitate Christ. The only thing that matters is that He is with you. And though we may weep at our unfaithfulness, we can always rely upon his faithfulness. So, I implore you, let us follow him and learn from him. Let’s be Image-Bearers.