“For Christians to recognize and find the God in people, we need a special God detector.”
A lady stopped me in the street. She was smiling. I smiled back. She started talking to me in French. I looked behind me to see if she was talking to someone else. She wasn’t—she was talking to me.
“Have you been back to Rome?”
“Umm … uh …”
“Remember? We stayed in the same hotel? Your kids played with mine?”
“I’m sorry. I have never been to Rome.”
“You used to live in Versailles four years ago?”
“No. I just moved here last July.”
“Oh.” She was totally confused. “You look just like someone I know. Exactly like her …” And she turned to unlock her apartment door. She shook her head, muttering to herself, “Just like her.”
I’d love to see a photo of her friend. I wonder what similarities we shared. Hair? Eyes? Height? Who knows?
Paris is a city where people are not very interested in understanding God’s love for them. But here’s the thing: I am kind of like that lady who saw similarities between her friend and me. I look at people around me, and I search for ways that they look like God. You see, the Bible says we are all created to look like God. Something about every single person can remind us of God. But here’s the trick: we need to know what God looks like first. Otherwise we won’t see it.
Have you ever seen people going back and forth on the beach with a metal detector at the end of the day looking for lost rings and money in the sand? Without the metal detector, there is no way they can recognize or find a valuable item buried in the sand. For Christians to recognize and find God in people, we need a special God detector.
Here’s how the God detector works:
- First, you need to learn what God looks like. (No—He does not look like Gandalf. Well, at least I don’t think He does.) The pastor at your church sometimes talks about “God’s image.” When he or she does, listen closely and take notes. The easy way to see what God looks like is to find love. I don’t mean the Valentine’s Day smooch, huggy, kissy love. I mean the kind of love where people go out of their way to help someone else, especially someone they are not supposed to help or love. Is that weird? Are there actually people whom you are not supposed to love? Sometimes we learn that it is OK to not love certain people—perhaps people your parents don’t like or people of another race, religion, or political persuasion. Jesus told about a really cool guy—a Good Samaritan—who loved someone he was not supposed to love. He looked like God. Our friends at the café follow a different religion than we do. But you know what? They go out of their way to show kindness. When I am around them, I hear the beep-beep of our God detector. These people even give us free coffee! We told them that their kindness reminded us of God; that to us, they look like God. You know what they said? “You remind us of God too!”
- Second, you find people who look like God when you meet others who walk around with their arms wide open. I don’t mean these people really open their arms when they walk around. What I mean is that they include all the people around them. The more people you meet and include, the more likely you are to hear the beep beep of the God detector. We do have to be careful about strangers, but what about the kids in your class who have no friends? And the younger kids who are scared of the older ones? We met a man on the bus. He was really smart. He had his arms wide open. We were brand new to Paris, and he invited us to his house for supper. Then he came with his wife to our house. Next, they invited us to their son’s music concert and introduced us to their group of smart and interesting friends. Beep beep, beep beep! I love being around people like that. You know why? It’s because they remind me of God! Beep!
- OK, there is one more thing that will set off your God detector. This one is fun. People having fun make the God detector beeper go crazy! It’s easy to be grumpy. It’s easy to be mad. It’s easy to get all worried about the world and its problems. But sometimes people forget about their problems and worries, and instead they just have fun. Yesterday there was a 12-member band playing music on the corner. It was cold and rainy, but they were singing about the sun and the sand and the ocean waves. Then all these strangers started dancing in the streets! I looked around and people were laughing and smiling, talking to one another, offering to take photos, and singing aloud without being shy. It was so much fun, I got tears in my eyes. My God detector machine was going wild. I felt blessed and so glad for this beautiful treasure of people who look like God on the streets of Paris.
So, even though many people in Paris don’t live in an awareness of God’s love, they were still created to look like God. And just like that lady who stopped me on the street and could not get over how much I looked like her friend, the same goes for the people here. Even though they may not know what God looks like, I do. And I love being a God detector in this great city. Beep!
Patricia DeWit and her husband, Peter, are global workers in Paris, France. Please pray for their work and ministry. Write an encouraging letter, send cards, and stay connected by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Visit www.paoc.org to learn more.