And Jesus said, “Truly I tell you , just as you have done to each of these who are my family, you have also done it to me.” (Matthew 25:41)
From the very beginning, one of God’s commitments to the human family as that each one of us would bear the image of God. This “image” would be at the core of who each person would be. If we look at anyone, this image should be present. But can we see it and are we watching for it?
When God came in Christ, Jesus repeatedly said that if you wanted to see the Father (who you cannot see) looking at Jesus was the image of God you could see. What is hard to see in most people was clearer in Jesus than anyone. While we should be able to look at one another and see the image of God, we attest to the fact that when we look at Jesus we DO see God.
But Jesus then stretches us in his own teaching. In Matthew 25 he shares a story about sheep and goats and the things that matter most to God. In that story he says that the issue is that as we help others in their need, we are actually helping him. He has identified with and is present in the people we meet. Our ability to love God is lived out in the act of loving other people. And it is not in their strength but in their weakness that we encounter them.
Martin Luther said that we are to “be Christ for each other.” Part of what we do in the church is being together to practice living the life God wants us to live equally well when we are apart. We do that here by seeing Christ in each other and being Christ for each other. Each person brings Christ into his or her life. Each person we meet is to be treated as Christ by us. This basic premise shapes who we are and how we treat others.
As a congregation, we teach that we are at our best when we are “watching for Jesus in each person we meet.” This is grounded in God’s commitment to humanity when we were created. It is grounded in God’s affirmation of that commitment in Jesus. And it is affirmed in God’s ongoing commitment to us as we live our lives as followers of Christ.
Go watch for Jesus in each other. Rejoice in what you see and treat one another in ways that honor the presence of Christ in them.