Embracing Whole People

You are a whole, unique, 360-degree, three-dimensional person made in the image of God.

We live in an age that likes to cast humans into two-dimensional boxes. We tend to pigeonhole people because of something they’ve said or posted online or even something they did in their past.

But in doing so we are turning their humanity into a caricature.

It’s as if you’re taking the fullness of human life to the artist at the county fair, paying $20 for a drawing, and declaring this one version of themselves as their one-true self.

This caricature-ization of people is, I believe, dismissive of the fullness of a human being.

Push Past Cynicism

Admittedly, I’m an idealist. It’s my life’s blessing and curse all wrapped up into one. I look at what is broken in this world and I compare it against what is possible. And I tend to get frustrated when things aren’t what they could be. Sometimes I get frustrated enough to attempt to do something about it (my best version of myself) and other times I get frustrated but don’t attempt to do anything about it. (my worst version of myself.)

But there is more to Adam McLane than my idealism, right? There’s more to me than my best character qualities and flaws. There’s more to me than the labels I carry as a parent or a golfer (thankfully) or any of the other roles I carry in this life.

I’m a whole person. You are a whole person. Together, we are more than caricatures of our best/worst stuff. We’re more complex than we give ourselves credit for. Why? We are so complex, so multifaceted because we’re made in the image of a great big, indefinable, complex God.

Reject Cynicism

In the same way that I see us turning people into caricatures, I see cynicism winning the day.

I hear things like “people can’t change” coming from the mouths of Christians. Or worse, because a person holds a view that is different than my own, and believing that people cannot fundamentally change, I see Christians dismissing others in the public arena. “That person is so ____ and I just can’t deal with them.”

Let’s remember what we believe because dismissing people is antithetical to the entire meta-theme of the Gospel message.

Fundamentally as Christians, we believe that all people are made in God’s image. That because of sin we are separated from God, our human nature flows towards desires of the flesh– a fancy way of saying we are naturally seeking things that are best for us in our own eyes. But thanks be to God for the work of His Son, Jesus Christ, we can change. And as we seek to make ourselves more Christ-like our lives here on earth are made better.

Therefore without change, we have no Gospel. And without accepting that people are whole and malleable, we cannot be people of the Gospel– to believe people cannot fundamentally change is an admission that Jesus’ work was insufficient, it’s saying “even God can’t change that man!” (Pro tip: That’s not what Christians believe at all! We believe God changes us, that anyone can change… ANYONE.)

Recognize that the person in front of you is a whole person– they are more than what you see. They have secrets that hurt, they have things about them both said and unsaid– dreams, fears, aspirations, weaknesses, strengths– on and on. Everyone you meet has people in their lives who love them. (or hate them) Somewhere they have a mom who loves them. They are someone’s Apple of their Eye. Someone, long before they stood in front of you, whispered lullabies in their ear.

Offer them the dignity of seeing them in their fullness. Offer them the dignity that they might change. (Or that you might change to be more like them!)

Understand that the person in front of you is more than the label you apply to them. They are more than what a personality test says about them. They are more than their job title or where they went to school or their address or even their bank account.

Each person you engage with is made in the image of God.

All of Them Means All. It’s Simple.

And– if you claim Christ– you believe that person is not only made in the image of God but that Jesus loved them so much that He, the Son of God, gave His life so that they might not be who they are naturally, but may, supernaturally, surrender their way for God’s way.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

John 3:16-18, The Message

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

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