On the Image of God…

It seems to me that, often, we humans(with myself among the first) tend to discredit or look down upon our fellow man with ease, and without the spirit of patience and humility. A reading from Saint John of Kronstadt today was a convicting reminder to me that “… man’s essence, the image of God, is always there.” He said that we cannot confuse man, in the image of God, with the evil which is in man, because evil is “only his accidental misfortune, a sickness, a devil’s dream.” It can’t be denied, however, that all men are created in the image of God.

Theosis, to me, seems to be the way of achieving the pre-Adamic state, a perfect communion both within one’s self(mind, body and spirit) and with the Lord. We as humans tend to elevate the rational mind above the heart and thus become critical and harsh, or we tend to elevate the heart above the mind and become lax in our judgments and clouded in our vision concerning righteous laws(ecumania being a prime example), or there is the time when we attempt to lead with the spirit without elevating humbling the body… there are many examples. When we walk with mind, body and spirit in harmony, it would seem that we become more like God — when we as humans live trinitarian(rightly in body, mind and spirit) we are more open to the grace from the Holy Trinity. When we are longsuffering and patient, silent and forgiving, fasting and praying, giving alms, living in obedience and bearing the cross, the Lord visits us with great graces, and sets our paths straight. The more we humble our intellect, the clearer we discern His voice, for as St. Isaac the Syrian says, we must walk before the Lord deaf and dumb, lowering ourselves even as low as an ant, and not expect that He shall hear us for our length of words. The more we humble our bodies, the less hold the passions have on us, for as the desert fathers have always attested, fasting is the crown of the virtues. St Seraphim of Sarov was so bold to say that if one does not fast, one is not Orthodox.

And when we humble our hearts, remembering that God is more merciful than we are in our judgments with men, and He desires all to be saved — and indeed, we are all made in His image — the less likely we are to give sway to wrath, which silences the inner life(St Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies). Our tongues contain the fires of hell, and we will be held accountable for every idle word. When humbling the body, we must remember among the first things to guard our tongues, to implore the Lord to set a watch over our lips.

James 3:2-12 For we all stumble in many ways. If someone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect individual, able to control the entire body as well. And if we put bits into the mouths of horses to get them to obey us, then we guide their entire bodies. Look at ships too: Though they are so large and driven by harsh winds, they are steered by a tiny rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination directs. So too the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze. And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence – and is set on fire by hell.

For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is subdued and has been subdued by humankind. But no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord, and Father, and with it we curse people made in God’s image. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters. A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it? Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a vine produce figs? Neither can a salt water spring produce fresh water.

Proverbs 13:3 “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.”

Proverbs 21:23 “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.”

James 1:26 “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.”

Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

May God grant us to walk in His image, and not be confined to a broken humanity.


One Response to “On the Image of God…”

  1. desertseeker Says:

    That was beautiful, Isaac! You went straight to the essence of our inner trinitarian nature and how it should guide our perspective of others. I liked what you shared about fasting too, especially with Lent under way. Thank you!

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