John Legend & the Imago Dei

I know this makes me cheesy and utterly predictable, but I have spent many minutes since yesterday crying while watching John Legend’s latest video:

Now I’m pretty in the tank for diversity, and R&B, and ladies, etc., but I spent yesterday trying to figure out why I found this video so much more viscerally moving than I find most Benneton-like appeals to diversity to sell things.

I realized that where this differs for me from the Dove ads and the carefully constructed “we are the world” music videos is that the many diverse women pictured aren’t looking at us through the camera – they’re looking at themselves. We’re not watching women looking for approval and receiving it (although technically the song lyrics could be read that way, and that is an important step for the world). We’re watching humans searching inside themselves for emotion, validation, strength, life, whatever in their private moments, the times when we all gather ourselves together to face a challenging universe. And even if it’s while crying or doubting – they find it.

There’s an old theological concept called the imago dei, or in Hebrew tzelem elohim. It’s the simple idea that just as it says in Genesis 1, all humans are created in the image of God. Therefore, God can be seen in all of us, and all of us are of sacred worth, regardless of whether we ever “produce” anything or prove anything or are even liked or noticed or loved or hurt or maligned by our peers. When I watch this video I see people finding the image of God within themselves – and I am reminded to be looking for it not only in myself, but in everyone and everything I encounter.

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