“Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness;” Gen. 1:26
Norman Rockwell first conceived of his classic painting, Golden Rule, in 1952. Inspired by the humanitarian mission of the United Nations, Rockwell wanted to paint a picture of different people from all the nations of the world. He wanted these people to stand behind key members of the U.N. Security Council. It was to be an image of hope that the UN could bring peace to the world. Eventually, he abandoned the project feeling it was too overwhelming.
Since the editors of the Saturday Evening Post prohibited minorities from being on the cover of the magazine, Rockwell put the painting away. It remained in storage until attitudes towards race began to change in the United States. When Rockwell returned to the painting, he decided to give it a makeover. He removed the diplomats and replaced them with ordinary people. He turned the focus of the work from diplomatic peace to our common humanity.
The final edition of the painting featured men, women and children of different races, religions and ethnicities standing behind the words of Luke 6:31, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In 1985, First Lady Nancy Reagan commissioned the work to be made into a mosaic and placed in the United Nations, where it remains on display today.
Today, I am thinking of this image as I read, “Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness;” These words are part of the ancient story woven into scripture. The story elders taught their children around campfires when the earth was too young for manuscripts or formal theologies.
Norman Rockwell chose to paint people’s humanity and in so doing gave an enduring image of the likeness of God. You may not be an artist, but the image you paint of people in your mind will guide your interactions with the world. When we imagine people’s inhumanity, it may express our fear, but it also clouds our eyes from seeing the likeness of God. It’s only when we choose to paint them in their full humanity that we begin to see the many faces of God.
Click to read: Genesis 1: 26-31
- What image do you paint of the people in your daily life? Do they reflect the face of God?
- How does this image change when you look at people not in your daily world?
- How do we fight evil deeds without compromising the God-given value of human life?
- Where do you struggle most to see the goodness of people?
- How can God help you with this struggle?
Photo Courtesy of Biography.com