The affirmation of the indwelling of the divine is a part of all religions. “The kingdom of God is within you,” said Jesus. “You are the temple of God,” wrote Saint Paul. “He who knows himself, knows God,” said The Prophet Muhammed. So too, has this affirmation been echoed by many Sufis.
For me, my outward identity has, at all times, been coupled with the inward knowledge that I am a child of God. This self-understanding has, thankfully, long provided me with the necessary sustenance and steadfastness to face life’s many struggles. Perhaps the most demanding struggle has been with the reality that even though universal human rights may be supported by religious teachings, there remain scores of people in this world who have yet to experience peace and justice.
Principles of human rights are outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the constitutions of many counties. They are supported through religious beliefs, as expressed in such statements as” “Humans were created in the image of God”, “There is that of God in every person” and “I am a child of God”. And so we must ask what is holding us back from actualizing a world where human rights are a reality for all?
All too often I have felt like shouting to the powers that oppress us: “We tell you, we ourselves are sacred. Why do you treat us this way?”
It is not easy for us to stay centered on the sacredness of life and human dignity, when our worth, our identity and our determination to work for peace through peaceful means is not recognized. It is violent to use force, but is it not also a form of violence to treat others as if they are anything less than the sacred children of God whom they are?
When we are ill-treated, it is especially important for us to affirm our sacredness. We must do so with the assurance that wherever we are, whether in free circumstances or not, whether we have personal liberty or not, we are constantly under the guiding hand of God. God has a service for us to render wherever God has placed us.
May hope be strengthened when we see God or the divine in those with whom we differ or even in those who impose the persecution! Let us respect and honor all people, for all of humankind is created in the image of God --without exception.
Query: Have there been times when the circumstances in which you find yourself seem to contradict your sacred worth as a child of God? What gave you the courage to keep on going? What did you learn from these experiences? In our spiritual journey of Seeking, Risking, Trusting and Learning, in what ways can we be more intentional about claiming the lessons learned?
Texts: Isaiah 59:14-15, Matthew 5:43-48