Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
Where do we all come from? What is it that we all have in common? Many people have struggled with those questions from earliest times, often without coming to agreement with each other.
But one thing I have come to realize over the years is that regardless of our origins, the average man simply wants to go to work, come home to his family at the end of the day, and have a life of peace. The truth is, that is not always so easy these days.
No one can argue with the fact that the world is filled with violence today. Whether you read about home invasions in our own back yard, or shootings in Salt Lake City or back east, or if you see the horrific violence currently being poured out on innocent women, children, and men in Iraq, it seems that unwarranted violence against innocent people is all around us.
So often those perpetrating such violence use religion as some sort of justification for their wanton hatred and cruelty. In fact, as we are currently seeing played out through the media, many filled with unfathomable hatred are spewing it against those of other religions.
I realize that people are passionate about their religion. So am I, and I would expect the same of others. On the other hand, if you truly believe that you have the proper relationship with God, why wouldn’t you want others to share in your faith? But how can they do so if they are dead?
I have firmly come to believe that everyone, every single person ever born, or ever to be born, is created in the image of God. I did not come up with that idea on my own; God makes it very clear in the Bible.
I believe that to be a critical part of a tolerant worldview. You see, if everyone is created in God’s image, then everyone deserves to be treated with tremendous respect. It doesn’t matter what religion they are, or even if they do not embrace any religion; to be created in God’s image is to be deserving of respect.
I believe that even if you do not believe that we are created in God’s image, that if you believe that we are somehow all the same, then you have an ethical, moral obligation to treat others, all others, with respect. To that end, whether you believe we were created by God, or if you believe in evolution, either way, you believe we all come from the same gene pool of humanity.
Therefore, no matter what you say, we are the same in so many ways, not only in our origin, but in the living out of our lives. If you cut us, we bleed. If you take our food, we are hungry. If you take our children, our hearts break. And if you disrespect others, the whole of humanity is diminished, and that includes you.
At the forefront of this cause must be the Christian. No matter what others believe, the truth must be championed, even though the ambassadors be ridiculed. Certainly I desire that the entire world come to faith in Christ, but even if the rest of the world does not, even if I walk alone in my faith, the truth that every human being has been created in the Image of God is not changed, nor does it diminish the right for all people to be treated with respect, because God’s image resides within each of them.
It is well past time for all people of all religions to join together, and with a voice that cannot be silenced, or even muffled, cry out with such a deafening passion for such respect to be afforded to all people, that those in the world who disagree find themselves isolated and so alone, that they must capitulate to themselves receiving the respect from others that they have tried so hard to deny others.
Even if you do not believe what I believe about God, this I know; you know that you deserve to be respected, and so do I.
Regardless of how others go forward, we must march as ambassadors of respect for the image of God that resides within all people; not as executioners, who ultimately poison the whole of humanity, including the very pool from which they themselves drink.
McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.