Crowdsource Theology and the Imago Dei

As we kicked off the Spring Semester Lighthouse series, In the Image of God, we held an experiment. With Genesis  1:26-27 in mind, we wanted to know how people picture God. If we believe ourselves to be in some way a reflection of Him, then how is it that we view Him?

Inspired by recent experiments in crowdsource art, we asked a simple question: “What does the image of God look like to you?”  Then we opened the discussion on Facebook, and let the magic of the internet spread the question to the ends of the earth.  Well, maybe not the ends of the earth… but it did make it to Portland.

Students, alumni, and friends of friends shared pictures, thoughts, videos, stories, and memes.  They shared images of their families, of sunsets, of children in poverty, of snow-covered cabins, and signs of hope in destitute places. One student, an atheist, shared his images of God, and why he does not see God in the world.

These stories and images tell a powerful story about an intimate God — a God who is present not only in the details of our lives but in our world’s most painful realities.  These images and reflections were compiled into a video, which was shared at the semester’s first gathering.  It can be found below:

As we continue this conversation throughout the semester, we will be building on two themes: 1) growing in Christian faith is learning to reveal more clearly the Image of God in our lives, and 2) this growth will equip us to more clearly see the Image of God in the world, and especially in other people. With this clearer sense of vision, we can begin to extend the grace towards others that Christ has extended towards us.

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Through this experiment in crowdsource theology, we have been able to begin thinking about our roles, not only as people made in God’s image, but also as participants in the life of a Christian community.

For those of us who have warmed our fair share of pews, we may find that we are in the habit of outsourcing “theology” to the experts.  But even the most cursory reading of scripture shows us that God gives no preference to the “professionals”.  In fact, Jesus’ response to the Pharisees might even communicate the opposite.

All of us, as people made in God’s image, as created people experiencing  their Creator, are empowered to take the risk of joining in the conversation.  In this stage of new building and growth at TCM, we are excited to see how God will continue to work through our community and embolden us to take that risk, as we discover what it means to be made in God’s image.