For my birthday my wife gave me a choice of presents. She said that I could either choose the practical gift of a new suit or something more pleasurable. Although I tend to be a practical person, on this occasion I selected the pleasurable option. Therefore, one day last week we headed over to the fabulous Fox Theater to see a show entitled, "Wicked."
If you're not familiar with this production, its title might cause you to question my desire to see it. As a matter of fact, when we were waiting in the lobby my wife jokingly offered to buy me one of the T-shirts they were selling. However, we didn't think it would be appropriate for a pastor to go around wearing a shirt that simply said "wicked" on the front of it.
The show is actually intended to be sort of a prequel to "The Wizard of Oz." And that film being one of my favorites since childhood is what led us to the Fox on this occasion.
The show supposedly provides the backstory for the witches in that classic tale, especially the Wicked Witch of the West. Seeing where she presumably came from would help people better understand this witch and give them insight into who she truly was.
Sometimes we need to remember our backstory and be reminded of who we are, not just individually, but as human beings. And you can't go much farther back than those first two chapters of Genesis having to do with the creation of mankind.
One of the truths that emerge from that account is that God has created us as living souls. Our physical being isn't who we are, and shouldn't be the main thing that defines us or controls us. We are more than what we see when we look in the mirror every morning -- and aren't we thankful for that?
Therefore, we need to cultivate that which will make us healthy and beautiful on the inside.
It also means that we will continue to exist as souls once this body dies. Death is not the end of us. We are souls who can have a relationship with God and who are going to live on in one condition or another forever.
So instead of simply living for the here and now, shouldn't we be preparing for eternity?
The second main truth brought out in Genesis about human beings is that we were created in the image of God. This doesn't mean that we look like God physically, because the Bible tells us that God is spirit. But our souls possess some of the qualities and abilities found in God -- morally, ethically, and intellectually.
It's true that much of that image has been marred by sin. Yet, it's still there to some extent. So, as we think about who we are as human beings, we ought to see both sides of the same coin.
On the one side we are all sinners, part of a fallen human race, whose hearts can be "desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9). But on the other side, we should recognize that we are among those who were made in the image of God and that He can restore a great degree of that image in us if we'll let Him do a transforming work in our lives.
So our backstory not only shows who we were originally and what we're like today, but it also reveals what we were meant to be and can become through God's grace and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
We don't have to be wicked. We as human beings made in the image of God have a unique opportunity to reflect God's glory to the rest of creation. Are we doing so?
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.