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Center for Action and Contemplation
Moving Toward Greater Love
Moving Toward Greater Love

We Are All Images of God

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Joan Chittister, Murshid Saadi Shakur Chishti, and Rabbi Arthur Waskow, writing from their traditions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, believe we all share equally in God’s image, even amid our joint history of violence.

All our traditions—Jewish, Christian, and Muslim—teach that the human race and every human being are created in the image of God. Rabbinic midrash says that when Caesar puts his image on a coin, each coin comes out identical—but that when the One who is beyond all rulers puts the divine image on the coin of every human being, each “coin” comes out unique.…

Today, the various Caesars of our planet insist that we must fit into a single mold, the mold of uniformity and death.… The pain of these deaths and of this destruction drives some of the children of Hagar, through Ishmael, and some of the children of Sarah, through Isaac, to forget that they are all children of Abraham. That we are all children of Noah and his wife, Naamah, who suffered through the danger that human violence imposes on all who dwell on our planet.…

If we are to celebrate [the Infinite God], we must in the same breath resist the idolatrous Caesars who think to impose upon us their murders. In our banks, our kindergartens, our picket lines and voting booths, as we worship in our graceful sacred buildings and in our quiet forests and on our frenzied streets, through the seasons of our joy and of our sorrow—in all these, we must remember to welcome ourselves, each other, and all who begin as strangers into the Tent that is open to all. [1]

Richard Rohr describes how each person is created in the Divine image, and is called to participate in the process of growing into God’s likeness:

What does it mean that everything created—everything our eyes can see or have ever seen—is somehow a partial reflection of the image of God? How can something be diverse as all of creation, and at the same time say that reality is more one than many? We say it of God, and we say it of everything our eyes have ever seen.

If we don’t view everything as created in the image of God, what happens? We start picking and choosing: well, that’s created in the image of God, but that is not. But everything, everything, is created in the image of God.

What, then, does likeness mean? In the early centuries of Christianity, the Church Fathers concluded: image was our objective, unquestionable creation as a child or image of God. Likeness was our personal appropriation of that reality. Two people might equally be images of God, but perhaps only one chooses to become kind, forgiving, inclusive, accepting, and patient, full of the great virtues. We already have image, but we grow in likeness. There is a dynamism toward growth, universality, and an infinite love that we can’t get rid of. [2]


[1] Joan Chittister, Saadi Shakur Chishti, Arthur Waskow, The Tent of Abraham: Stories of Hope and Peace for Jews, Christians, and Muslims (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2006), 175, 176.

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, introduction to theme, 2018 Daily Meditations: Image and Likeness, video, 5:05.

Image Credit: A path from one week to the next—Madison Frambes, Untitled 1, 7, and 5 (detail), 2023, naturally dyed paper and ink, Mexico, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.

Though she weeps, the woman is moving forward. Pain is a natural part of healing.

Story from Our Community:  

Right now in my life, I find myself in “the eye of a storm.” At first, I felt somewhat baffled by this experience. Recently, though, I have come to realize that this is a transformational time. I feel myself embodying a sacred, peaceful, compassionate sense of being event amidst the never-ending storm. I feel so much more grounded after traveling on a four-year journey with Fr. Rohr’s guidance. I’m so grateful for CAC’s deep, faithful support. Many loving thanks! —Lorraine C.

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