Right now I am sitting at my desk at school. The students are bent over white sheets of paper. Their heads are down and most of their pencils are moving. I have a few who are in the hallway sitting at desks to do this assignment; they wanted quiet and solitude. These students are attempting to answer a question we have all been asking since the beginning.
I wonder if Adam knew how to answer this question? If we were able to pose this question to him in the garden while he was naming the animals would the answer have come to him readily? When God brought his Helpmeet and presented her to him, would Adam have been able to better answer this question then? When he closed his teeth down on the flesh of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil did his definition start to become blurred? Or did it remain and that is part of why he and Eve attempted to use fig leaves as coverings?
On the white board I have a question written:
What does it mean to be made in the Image of God?
I ask this question at the end of my Humanities’ classes. I continually ask myself this question. When God was recording the Genesis of all things he spoke and said, “Let us make man in our image.”
Many scholars, skeptics and sages have attempted to define and illustrate this one phrase of Scripture. I have read countless articles, commentaries and studies on this concept, but the students’ answers speak the most to me. Rarely have they been influenced by any type of systematic theology. Sometimes I detect the influence of doctrinal tradition. But most often their answers are raw and real. The students’ answers, even if given only half-heartedly, challenge me. Their answers evoke a response in me, and that response leads to my own inner movement and reevaluation.
So, tonight I will sit down to read the students’ papers. Page after page I will hear what they think. What I discover almost every time I give this assignment is that so often we sell these students short. We tend to not expect deep thought or logical thinking. We tend to dismiss them because they are teenagers. How sad. How incredibly sad.
I look around my classroom and it hits me with immediate and almost tangible force that I could have another C.S. Lewis in my classroom. He could be coming into my room on a daily basis and I am being given the privilege of getting to speak into his life. I could have another Amy Carmichael or Madeleine L’Engle sitting at my tables. Perhaps I have an Ann Voskamp or a Fanny Crosby. Perhaps there is another Billy Graham hidden among the students who come in Room 203 every day.
And then I come back to my original definition of the Image of God. As these students filter in and out of my classroom all day long I see the Image of God.
In each face. In their eyes.
Every day. All day long.