Unique and Alike

Genesis 1:26-27, 31

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, … So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. … And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.” (NIV)

Every man is like all other men, like some other men, like no other man.

–Clyde Cluckholn and Henry A Murray, in Personality in Nature, Society, and Culture

Nowadays we would say person, so we have to assume that’s what they meant back in 1953 when this book was published. All too often we forget that, as human beings, we are all more or less alike and we are all vastly different. There are basics that all have in common. We need to belong. We need to feel useful in our sphere of life. We need to have a sense that our presence matters. 

Ha! You thought I was going to mention our general physical similarities and our need for food, clothing and shelter, didn’t you. We have that in common too.

What are basic needs? Remember: mind, body and spirit. We cannot separate one from another and remain human. Basic physical needs sustain the body. Those are pretty easy to identify. Basic intellectual and emotional needs sustain the mind. Learning, understanding and responding to our immediate environment is the starting point and we go from there. Basic spiritual needs sustain the soul. They are the ones noted above–a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaning in our lives. 

All the basics are integral to our strength as whole persons. All contribute to the soundness of our relationships with one another and with God. All are important to our liveliness and vitality. We can’t be fully human without them. They provide the foundation from which we grow.

Sometimes people don’t want to see that we all have so much in common and our common bond is denied. Particular traits are emphasized to create prejudice and distrust. It is a terrible shame and what Dr King and others fought so diligently about back in the Civil Rights Movement. This week, with another set of shooting victims, and the shooters apparently motivated by hate, we as a nation must dedicate ourselves to join in the fight, and make it our own. We must learn to love our neighbors, especially our neighbors who are most different from us. They are God’s children. We are not meant to hate them, but to love them.

Equally damaging, on the other hand, is when our vast uniqueness is downplayed and individual differences are not tolerated. When we refuse to acknowledge and celebrate our differences (and the challenges that sometimes causes) we, as a whole, lose out. We see it in marriage and the family all the time and it isn’t healthy. We see it in the cultural divide within our country. People are created different and that is part of the wonder of it all.

Each and every one of us is made in the image of God. From the very beginning we are told that God created humanity, male and female alike, in God’s image. It isn’t only in our gender differences, but our skin color and native language and differences in values and preference, skills and talents. All of it is precious. That we are created in God’s image connects us in unity, even in the diversity we see expressed in us. God created diversity in everything. No two elm trees are alike, even though they are identifiable as elm trees. No two people are alike, even though in a way, we are all alike.

Take the time to see what you have in common with the people around you and make a point to pay attention to the uniqueness of each and every person in your life. Celebrate it all. Each one is a particular gift from God. 

Blessings to you,

Pastor Karla

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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