Implications of the Image of God, Part II

Amy and I do a lot of at-home dates. With young kids, it’s difficult to go out often. We tend to frequent the same few local restaurants for take-out. We go back to them again and again because the food is always good. We know that when we order from them, we will enjoy the meal.

Genesis 1:26-28 is a text to come back to again and again. Like a good meal from a good restaurant, the truth contained in this text is worth returning to because it is rich in truth with far reaching implications for our lives today.

I preached on this text a few weeks ago and we will continue to reference it in various sermons in our Origins sermon series.

There are so many implications to the reality of all people being made in the image of God, so I am taking time to write on a few of them. Last week we looked at how being made in the image of God impacts encountering people in need.

Today I want to talk about human trafficking. How can we reflect and represent God in a redeemed way when we encounter these neighbors?

Human trafficking is the business of stealing freedom for profit. In other words, it is modern day slavery.

It can take on many forms, but primarily it involves trafficking people for sex, forced labor, or both. The Polaris Project defines the two main types of trafficking in this way:

Sex Trafficking: The crime of using force, fraud, or coercion to induce another individual to sell sex. Common types include escort services, pornography, illicit massage businesses, brothels, and outdoor solicitation.

Labor Trafficking: The crime of using force, fraud or coercion to induce another individual to work or provide service. Common types include agriculture, domestic work, restaurants, cleaning services, and carnivals.

And how many people are victims of this kind of abuse and injustice? The Polaris Project estimates that there are around 25 million people currently being trafficked globally.

The number is shocking. It’s hard to comprehend. But I want to focus on one word in there: people.

These 25 million people are men, women, and children made in the image of God.

If all people are made in the image of God and, therefore, all people have inherent value, what does it look like for us as followers of Jesus to help those who are valued by God, but treated like property by others?

It can be overwhelming to think about, but it is important for us to consider. One place to begin, is to recognize this is not just a global problem, but a local problem. There are people in our area who are victims of human trafficking. For instance, there are approximately 115 illicit massages business in Northern VA, many of which are in Fairfax. These places often exploit trafficked men and women.

The reason we may not recognize or think about it is because it can be hard to detect. This resource helps you know what to look for.

A key step to help us embrace, celebrate, and live out the implications of being made in the image of God, is to take time to slow down and really see people as people.

Additionally, we can remember the heart of our God for the broken and oppressed. Psalm 34:18 says:

                The LORD is near to the brokenhearted

                                and saves the crushed in spirit.

As Jesus began his public ministry, he said was sent to “proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18 ESV).

In light of that, we can take up the cause of the trafficked image bearer by praying, advocating, and caring for him or her when we are able.

One very practical way to get involved in caring for these fellow image bearers is to come alongside a local faith-based organization who is doing good work to prevent and disrupt trafficking, and restore survivors here in Northern VA—Reset180.

One of our members, Christina Shaw, works for Reset180 as the Director of Survivor Services. I encourage you to reach out to her to find out ways you could partner with her and this great organization as they seek to serve our neighbors in the name of and grace of Jesus.

Here are some specifics ways we can be praying that Christina shared with me:

  • Pray for victims to accept the help that we have to offer and leave the life that they’re living in.
  • Pray for opportunities to share Christ with these individuals.
  • Pray for safe shelter for them whether it’s within our county or elsewhere.
  • Pray for the ability to build a local shelter and transitional house for survivors.
  • Pray for Christina to have the words to comfort these individuals in their hurting and serve them well.
  • Pray that she would have longevity in this ministry, healthy boundaries and rest well as it can be very overwhelming and disheartening to work with people from hard places especially when they do not want help.

Church, may we continue to strive to reflect and represent God in a redeemed way as we live life in a broken world in need of help and hope. If you have questions about this, or anything else, I’d love to hear from you at .

– Justin Pearson