Imago Dei – ‘No Ordinary People’

November 23, 2009 — 1 Comment

I had the privilege of attending a C.S. Lewis conference in Oxford a few years ago on my sabbatical.  The closing event was a service at St. Mary’s church.  A British actor read Lewis’ sermon preached during WW II.  He called it The Weight of Glory (from a phrase in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Here is the link to the entire sermon. It is a masterpiece that adds greatly to our vision of eternity and to understanding the Imago Dei – humankind made in the image of God.
Christopher Mitchell in a wonderful article on Lewis’ evangelistic zeal demonstrates how Lewis “longed above all else for the unseen things of which this life offers only shadows, for that weight of glory which the Lord Christ won for the human race. And knowing the extraordinary nature of every human person, Lewis longed for and labored for their glory as well.”

An expanded quote we used in today’s sermon at Christ Church will whet your appetite:

It may be possible
for each to think too much of his own
potential glory hereafter; it is hardly
possible for him to think too often or too

deeply about that of his neighbour.
The load, or weight, or burden of my
neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on
my back, a load so heavy that only
humility can carry it, and the backs of the
proud will be broken. It is a serious thing
to live in a society of possible gods and
goddesses, to remember that the dullest
and most uninteresting person you talk to
may one day be a creature which, if you
saw it now, you would be strongly tempted
to worship, or else a horror and a
corruption such as you now meet, if at all,
only in a nightmare. All day long we are,
in some degree, helping each other to one
or other of these destinations. It is in the
light of these overwhelming possibilities, it
is with the awe and the circumspection
proper to them, that we should conduct all
our dealings with one another, all
friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people. You have
never talked to a mere mortal. Nations,
cultures, arts, civilization—these are
mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of
a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke
with, work with, marry, snub, and
exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting
splendours. This does not mean that we
are to be perpetually solemn. We must
play. But our merriment must be of that
kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind)
which exists between people who have,
from the outset, taken each other
seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no
presumption. And our charity must be a
real and costly love, with deep feeling for
the sins in spite of which we love the
sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence
which parodies love as flippancy parodies
merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament
itself, your neighbour is the holiest object
presented to your senses. If he is your
Christian neighbour he is holy in almost
the same way, for in him also Christ
latitat—the glorifier and the glorified,
Glory Himself, is truly hidden.


One response to Imago Dei – ‘No Ordinary People’


    If humans alone in creation bear the glory and responsibility of being imago dei, then what about being human is unique from all other created things?
    Other animals use tools, create “art”, and are dependent upon community. Angels fell and face judgment, so they too must be both subject to moral law and have the free-will to choose sinfully.
    What’s left?
    Immortality, perhaps?

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