As another day dawns after the chilling massacre at the midnight cinema killing in Colorado, new things will come to light out of that darkened thither of death. There will be human stories that break our hearts, of new high school grads preparing for college, of newly weds, of couples engaged to be married, of little children who were there because a baby sitter couldn’t be found. We will also, undoubtedly, learn of heroism. We will hear of stories like I read this morning, of a young man who threw himself in front of his girlfriend to protect here life and lost his. More stories will come. Behind the tragedy there is always the story of some power, some humanity that soars at the same time as one human spirit, the killer’s, displayed inconceivable depravity.
The reason this is so is important. It can even lead to hope. The reality of evil is uncontested. But the nobility of the human spirit tends to shine brighter against the black pall of human depravity. The depravity is sin from the fall. The nobility is the image of God in man.
The Bible says,
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth'” (Genesis 1:26 ESV).
The image of God is revealed in many ways. C.S. Lewis wrote of it his Voyage to Venus and differentiated from images that Man creates:
“A clever waxwork can be made so like a man that for a moment it deceives us; the great portrait which is far more deeply like him does not. Plaster images of the Holy One may before now have drawn to themselves the adoration they were meant to arouse for the reality. But here, where his living image, like him within and without, made by his own bare hands out of the depth of divine artistry, his masterpiece of self portraiture coming forth from his workshop to delight all worlds, walked and spoke, it could never be taken for more than an image. Nay, the very beauty of it lay in the certainty that it was a copy, like and not the same, a rhyme, an exquisite reverberation of untreated music prolonged in a created medium” (Lewis, C.S., Voyage to Venus. London Pan Books, 1955, p.190.).
We can never really create what we are. Only God can create that in its fullness. Our humanity is His masterpiece. In Christ Jesus, we see the fullness of undiminished beauty, unmarred by sin, unhindered by darker attributes which have best us in our fallen condition: perfect love, perfect freedom, perfect thinking, and perfect compassion. Yet, there are glimpses of this, through the darkness, and often in the darkness. And that is what I expect we will see in the days to come. Behind the stories is not only a great theological truth about the image of God in Mankind, but a hint that Someone must have fulfilled what we did not and is there to help us find our way back to God’s best. He is. His name is Jesus. And He welcomes all of God’s children to Him in hours like we face today.
May those who suffer know the fullness of the humanity and the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ on this first Lord’s Day after this terrible tragedy.