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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

blessed annoyance


i love the friends i've gathered together on this thin raft...
(jim morrison)

my friend albert sent me this post the other day, written as a devotional for his church's in-house paper. he is one of the most fascinating people that i have had the good fortune to come to know over the last while. confined to a wheelchair with limited manual dexterity and verbal communication abilities, albert probably gets marginalized a lot by people who draw equal signs between physical conditions and intellect or depth of character. however, to spend time with this man is to gain a sense that God buries some treasures a bit more deeply than others- and that the digging is worth it.

the church to which he refers in the first sentence is the one in which i serve- the person passing him the note sounds like me, but only albert knows- i don't remember.

what is cool about this is that a simple moment in time can unwittingly have impact on the faith journey of another. thanks al.
***

I RECENTLY ATTENDED a seminar at a church. Being late I positioned my wheelchair into an available spot. Between me and the power-point screen, however, was a huge wooden cross. Noticing my futile attempts to look around, under, or over the cross-beam a friend penned me these words, 'The cross is in the way of so many things in life'.

I later considered Galatians 5:11, '... the offense of the cross ...'. The cross became an offense because it was in my way; it was in my face constantly. It challenged my focus. My attention was diverted from the speaker and the presentation. It made me uncomfortable, even annoyed..
How true in life!

The Cross is a stumbling-block to my personal agenda, however noble or selfish. PUT ME FIRST! It seeks to remove the hardness, the stones, the weeds, from the soil of my heart so the message of Christ can go deep into my life. INDIFFERENCE! It challenges the authority in my
life. ME not THEE. It guarantees a life of hardship, taking me where I don't want to go. DEATH! It calls me to follow. NO. I want to lead!

OK, that's me ... but now, what about you? The offense of the Cross.

The Cross? I take a second look and my heart pounds. Tears blind my eyes. I gladly bend toward its presence. Forget the offense ... I SEE JESUS! The Cross is vastly more than our Christian emblem. It's the Will, the Word, the Work, the Wisdom and Wonder of Jesus Christ ...
transplanted into my life. OK, that's me ... what about you?

O Blessed Annoyance! O Blessed Rock of Offense! O Blessed Cross of Christ!

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

chill



















verily i say unto you...

if exclusion is anti-love then hell is the most exclusive club in town.

it is the nightclub with all the lights and none of the warmth of human conversation- a place where everyone is waiting for someone else more interesting to arrive.

it is being utterly alone in a cold crowd and unable to leave, yet aware of a really great house party just across the street

to what degree does the house of God feel like this to the stranger seeking the taste of hope and the sound of love?

a glass of coke and a hot dog's fine
he said "how 'bout some bread and a glass of wine?"

(larry norman)

*just some leftover ideas that didn't make it into the last post...

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

song for drella


i miss andy- i never know what will trigger it.

songs for drella is a great biographical tribute album by lou reed and john cale formerly of velvet underground... i used to take the students through it in a unit on pop-art that we did, but a lot of the kids had a tough time with the way their own homophobia closed their minds to warhol's genius. i relented and quit sharing the album with the students, feeling that his extracurricular activities were not key to appreciating his genius, but were simply part of who he was.

likewise, i side-stepped the troublesome young male apprentices that were constantly surrounding leonardo da vinci... it was too much to ask for the small-town saskatchewan kids to be able to look past one's nontraditional sexual identity in order to appreciate one's work. really frustrating how good even the young are at being unloving... more than once i wondered how a transgendered young person in this environment might be treated when teacher wasn't looking or listening.

recently i read in our local paper about an interest group that were speaking out against the depiction of albinos as bloodthirsty villains in some 68 (or something... can't remember the actual number i read) films since 1960... never really thought about it, not being pigmentally challenged apart from that really ugly time every year between the first wearing of shorts and the first sunburn. unless someone draws your attention to some things, your bigotry can remain a plank in your eye.

upon viewing the recent wachowski brothers film V for Vendetta, i had the opportunity to talk to my sons about the subplot involving the lesbian actress who finally finds love and acceptance just in time to be thrown into a concentration camp, tortured and experimented upon until her light is finally put out. as a dad, i had the opportunity to try to speak words of grace, citing the line 'why do they hate us so much? because we are different?' as being a tragic question for one to ask... to be hated for being different- to suspect it, to know it, to feel it when you walked into a room- i wonder what that would be like?

it's no wonder that the percentage of homosexual suicides is so much higher than the percentage of heterosexual ones. the word gay seems to be an extremely ironic misnomer.

back about a year ago, when there was much debate going on concerning same-sex marriage, i posted an article on another blog which cited the words of our bishop as well as a couple of my own.
(http://e-pistles.blogspot.com/2005/07/others.html)

i was surprised that not a single comment was left. perhaps it was just timing- or perhaps it was one of those things that we side-step when we haven't really actively made up our own minds about it yet. i don't think it really matters why... what does matter is that Jesus spent a scandalous amount of time with 'all the wrong people,' offering them love and hope of freedom from the judgement of others.

Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." (luke15.1-2)


interestingly, Jesus responded to these words with one of his most beloved parables: the lost sheep. you remember- the one where there are ninety-nine right-thinking republican sheep and the good shepherd goes off to rescue the one liberal one that has wandered off into an oblivion of self-indulgence? the good shepherd knows the rest will be fine, all huddled together around the middle, but is concerned that this one living on the edge is liable to go right over and not realize it until impact. from love, not simply responsibility, the rescue mission is launched- we know this because, upon finding and rescuing the lost one, the shepherd 'joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home,' calling all of his friends and neighbours to celebrate together the saving of a life.

how we respond to the basic human need for fellowship will be a strong indicator as to whose we are and with whom (and where) we will be when the shepherd's party for the foundlost starts.

andy? andy was short-sighted, fat (early on), and lacking both pigment and hair. he was gay, hypersensitive, perfectionistic and brilliantly original. socially quirky, he was a shrewd judge of human character who acted against this judgement, being disappointed again and again by the people closest to him. he was a really easy target for almost everything and everyone mean.

no wonder he was such a fan of the deconstructed, remanufactured and repackaged celebrities like norma-jean baker and elvis presley. no wonder he called his art collective 'the factory.' no wonder he created large art displays celebrating the mass-production of processed products... this was his salvation song.

yeah, i miss andy.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Warhol)

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Anniversary Of The Worst Kind


Have you ever had one of those days that you knew was going to be crappy no matter what? Well today was one of them. I've known for quite awhile that this day was coming and, I guess I've dreaded it to some degree. But it's something you can't prepare yourself for, nor do you know how you will react when it's here. You see, today marks the twentieth anniversary of my brother-in-law's death. (I've really grown to hate the word anniversary in situations like this, because aren't anniversaries supposed to be a time of celebration?)

My brother-in-law Garth was my wife's younger brother (and only other sibling) in her family. He passed away at the young age of 14 years - the only victim of a single half-ton truck carrying 8 or 9 young teens and an inexperienced 16 year old driver who just got his driver's licence.

Thinking back to when I first met Garth, he was this energetic dirty-blonde nine year old boy and I was the boyfriend that came into the picture and took his sister away from him. This was a very hard time for him - his parents were divorced, his dad was living in another province, his mom just got remarried, and now this young stranger was hanging around with his seester (as he called my wife). I definitely wasn't winning the popularity contest with him at the time, but I remember feeling the same way... I wanted to spend 'alone' time with my girl, but kid brother was in the picture alot. Don't get me wrong - I did enjoy those times and I cherish them now even more.

Twenty years ago tonite, I remember going to Belinda's house after work and having supper at her mom's. We were both tired, so decided just to stay home that night and hang out watching TV. Garth was going out with some friends in the neighborhood that night and before he left, he came and gave Belinda and myself a hug. This definitely wasn't Garth's nature and I still wonder to this day what came over him that night before he went out with his friends - did he know something was going to happen? Was this like a goodbye hug?

I remember leaving Belinda's house about 10:30 and went home (about 20 minutes out of town). Funny when traumatic events in our lives occur, it's like that moment in time is 'freeze-framed' - I was at home in bed watching an 80's video countdown show and the Robert Palmer video 'Addicted to Love' was being aired when I got a phone call around 11:30 p.m. It was a concerned and worried Belinda - she said that there was an accident and Garth was in the vehicle, but she said that all she heard was that everyone was OK. I remember racing into the city in less than 10 minutes - really feeling ticked that these kids were out late and there was a fender bender and that Garth was involved in this. As I neared the city, I could see many emergency vehicles and police car lights flashing ... there were so many lights cutting through the dark of the night. I quickly picked up Belinda from her mom's house, both of them commenting on how overly-loud the sirens were that night. When we got to the accident site, the police wouldn't let us through the barricade. When we said who we were, they became silent and allowed us in. As we walked towards the truck, we came up to Belinda's step-father who was walking to us and his words were "I'm sorry". Garth was on the back of the truck with two other boys and when it hit loose gravel, it fishtailed and rolled. The two other boys jumped off but Garth tried to stay in the box. When the truck stopped rolling, it was on it's side and Garth was pinned underneath the back wheel. Apparently his leg was severed and detached. The kids ended up pushing the truck off him, but he bled to death at the scene. Only hours before, we were laughing, talking and hugging..... now all that was silenced forever in this life.

I can still remember that numbing feeling that night .... it's like time stood still... the horror played over and over again in our minds ... we were beyond sleep and the morning wasn't coming it seemed. I remember thinking ... how would this life changing event affect us a week from now, a month from now, the first Christmas, 10 years, etc.?

And here I am, 20 years later, almost to the exact moment when it happened, sitting at my computer, feeling broken-hearted and mourning with tears probably for the first real time in my life. If I feel like this right now, I can't imagine the heartache and sadness my wife and mother/father-in-law have endured these past twenty years. They say you never know what it feels like until it happens to you. And I can't imagine. But I have a daughter who is the same age right now that Garth was when he died; it definitely puts things more into perspective when you have a child. I also have a son, Landon, who is 12 is a spittin' image of Garth (right down to his personality, mannerisms and looks).

Tonight feels so different .... it feels like I lost a dear brother.

Life is so precious. Don't take it for granted. Don't let petty problems get in the way of your relationships with those you love and care for. Life is short on this earth. Cherish the time and moments you have with your family and friends. And remember to give a hug and say 'I love you' often to those important people around you.

I think I'll go and give my sleeping wife and kids a kiss on the cheek now.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

against the din


the Lord can come to us at anytime... will we always recognize Him?
(curious servant)



i think the key to understanding CS's idea is in the word recognize.





recognition can be either passive or active. to recognize in the passive sense probably just means to be able to remember who someone is when you see them again after a period of absense... like when Jesus comes through the clouds of glory and everyone recognizes him, prompting the whole knees bowing, tongues confessing that he is Lord bit recorded in isa45.

to actively recognize is, in my view, to ascribe to one some honour or the acknowledgement of a great accomplishment. as we read in rev4 when the angels and the living creatures all lay facedown in heaven with 'holy holy holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come...'

so will we always recognize Him? i can't wait for the day when always is unencumbered by cause and effect and linear complication, being instead the eternal now.

yes, our greatest calling is to always recognize (active) Him. however, some days i have trouble even recognizing (passive) Him because of the distractions that seem to be inescapable on fallen planet earth.

kurt vonnegut wrote an interesting short story called harrison bergeron about a dystopian society inwhich balance and equality are maintained not by providing opportunities for the weak to become stronger, but by inflicting corrective impedences upon the gifted.

[classic vonnegut-
found in the collection of short stories welcome to the monkey house
(http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385333501/qid=1147711618/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_2_1/702-7478859-5520055)]

one character, harrison's extremely intelligent father, has been issued an implant which interrupts his mental faculties with sonic blasts of sound effects every few moments, rendering him less than coherent most of the time. there is an incredible spiritual metaphor here (albeit unintentional), for our ability to process life in the light of God's grace, not to mention our relationship with him, is intentionally interrupted by the envoys of the enemy. our challenge is to recognize God amidst the din of life.

as trent reznor (nine inch nails) put it figuratively and i repeat literally:
goddamn this noise inside my head.

one day 'always' will be without beginning or ending- simply a state of perpetual being... until then i share my loaves and fishes with anyone in need of them, in recogniton of all that he has done in and for me so far, and in hopes that they will prompt another to recognize the face of God in that moment of need.




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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

depth to surface

recently in the comment box for a post on worship etiquette,
curious servant said...

"I was working on a painting this morning... in the parking lot of our church.

I was using spray paint in the parking lot and found myself moving from shaking the can of paint to dancing with eyes closed.

I'm not sure if anyone noticed me back there... but it doesn't matter, does it? He noticed. "


i realized as i read this that i should post this image here on northVUs, as i have mentioned it once or twice...

(http://northvus.blogspot.com/2006/01/bombing-church-for-gods-glory.html
http://northvus.blogspot.com/2005/10/was-only-joke.html)

...but have never posted the finished project. a few things to note.
go ahead, click on it for a closer look:

note the character in the centre who reads of God's intended world in the bible and is inspired to create (is that a spray can in his hand???) in response to it.

note the symmetry between the spire of the church on the left and the tree of life on the right.

note how smooth and flowing the original vision is and how structural man's response is.

note the vines that seem to be creeping up between cracks in the pavement- the organic creation invading the concrete and steel of the urban framework.

note the scripture reference from psa121, as well as the gaze of the character.

note (although it's not evident here) that the urban setting is to the east and the mountains are in the west (which is true according to the direction of the painting which faces north: the rocky mountains are about eight hours west of us...)

ignore the irony of the 'no skateboarding' sign- the skaters all do! (it is only there for insurance purposes anyway)


i still receive comments from people who speak of the visual explosion that impacts them as they drive by the mikhail's mural on the back of our church.

God not only notices- he uses many languages to open dialogue between himself and his crowned of creation: us.

keep dancing
keep painting
keep leading others into an awareness of God's presence

georges seurat, the divisionist painter whose colour and compositional theories lent us a beautiful (albeit einsteinean) look into how light and matter are connected, said 'painting is the art of giving depth to surface.'

this wall now has depth. on numerous levels, it is no longer a surface, but yet another icon- a window into the spiritual realm.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

evangelical iconography


"It hangs above our love seat, which coincidentally is where I usually sit to read my Bible, pray and reflect. After I've finished my time with God, I read this...it serves as a constant reminder (one I need often)..."
-cinder




i think that iconography has gotten a raw deal in evangelicalism... the whole idea of a 'window into heaven' is hugely spurned as idolatry by some- to which i, in my less sensitive and gracious moments cry 'balderdash!'

i was meeting with one of the elders of our church yesterday, over a tim hortons sandwich that he kindly bought for me, and he was sharing a deeply moving prayer experience that he had had earlier on in the day- a'listening prayer time.' you know the kind: you sit there and actively focus on God and his goodness without saying anything (harder for some of us than others, i know)...

where had this recent communion time with the creator of the universe taken place? in a prayer room at a church furnished with comfortable furniture, some fresh-cut flowers in a vase, a shelf of inspirational books and 'pictures all over the walls.' he also mentioned that there was music playing softly in the background.

well, depending on what your pathway is to God, this room had something for almost everyone...

(except for, perhaps, the spiritual activists, but the whole pathways gig is not only a topic for fabulous books written by people like gary thomas, it is also a whole nother blog)

... and yet these 'helps' could be considered 'icons.' they are hyperlinks to an awareness of the presence of God. for our catholic friends, icons are precisely this: they are not worshipped anymore than we worship the pictures on the walls or the flowers in the vase. they are reminders of God's goodness, not gods themselves.

there was a strange psychological play called 'equus' written by peter shaffer (same guy that wrote 'amadeus'- there are some really great thematic similarities but this is, of couse, whole nother blog no 2) which deals with a youth's misplaced veneration of horses due to a horse calendar that was hung over his bed during his childhood to replace a depiction of Jesus' crucifixion that his mother deemed too guesome upon her personal abandonment of her catholic roots.

in the play it becomes very clear, however, that the young man has a lot of psychological and emotional problems anyway, and this horse thing could have easily been a fear of clowns, had his mother chosen to hang a picture of a clown there instead of a equestrian calendar.

point is we all know that the picture is not the object of worship, it is not even a representation of the object of worship- it is a representation of an aspect of the object of worship.

so as a believer, seeking to commune with God with a guitar in my lap and a bible in my hand, i often have, at my side, a book of paintings depicting episodes in Jesus' ministry years. just as cinder has the tandem bike icon, i regularly turn to the picture in the book which shows a very terrified peter up to his waist in choppy oceon, wild-eyed and grasping Jesus' hand like a drowning man...

yep, that one takes me there. that's my icon.

shalom

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Friday, May 05, 2006

once upon a tandem

A few years ago my husband and I were shopping for a picture for our living room and we happened upon this poster called, "Once Upon a Tandem." We hard-mounted it and it has become the focal point in our living room. It's proven to be a huge point of conversation about faith in Christ and life in general. It hangs above our love seat, which coincidentally is where I usually sit to read my Bible, pray and reflect. After I've finished my time with God, I read this...it serves as a constant reminder (one I need often) of why, even though somedays things don't make a lot of sense and aren't smooth sailing, I need to daily lay down my cross and give everything to Him, and trust that He's the best person to be in the driver's seat...not me! It's served as a reminder this week , that giving control totally to Him isn't always easy, but it needs to be done, and done as often as necessary, if I want to live life with Him to the fullest potential."

WHEN I INVITED JC
on my bicycle-built-for-two,
I assumed He'd pedal
Instead He's deadweight
He's slowing me down. I wonder why I ever let
Him on in the first place.

Finally, I turn and say, "How come you never pedal?"
With a wink and a smile He replies,
"I THOUGHT YOU"D NEVER ASK."
And so life is better. Easier.
Pedaling with JC,
I get where I'm going faster than ever.
Still, my carefully chosen destinations are never as good as I imagined.

Suddenly,
I REALIZE THAT HE'S BEEN WHISPERING DIRECTIONS TO ME THE WHOLE TIME.
When I take His advice,
We wind up on
shortcuts
and smooth blacktop,
and all roads seem to go downhill.

Then, when I get tired of pedaling,
I put my feet up on the handlebars
and it turns out that
I've been slowing Him down!
HE NEVER GETS TIRED.

Nothing I decide,
could be better than tandem biking
with JC as co-pilot.

But, I'm wrong.
The real fun begins.
When I stop the bike and ask JC to take the front seat
--handlebars and all.

Since then,
I've never looked back,
And my oh my,
the places He takes me.

The sights I see.

The scenic routes.
The side roads.
THE BUMPY TRAILS.
The dizzying mountain tops.
The green valleys.
All places I would have missed.

Oh, I still have my own handlebars
and sometimes I hang on for dear life.
But, on a tandem bike
those back handlebars
Can't steer at all.

I GO WHERE JC GOES.

and I wouldn't have it any other way.

"Now you've got my feet on the path, all radiant from the shining of your face. Ever since you took my hand, I'm on the right way."
Psalm 16:11 (MSG)

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

going both ways


i'm sitting here in my classroom... it's that half-hour in the morning before school where everybody's here, but no classes are going on. in my room, about twenty feet to my write as i type here, there is a student-run bible study taking place.

what a blessing this is to be passively part of... passive in that i am simply allowing my classroom to be used by students for this activity.

it's not a common thing... i remember in my first year of teaching, a student came to me with a request: that i would be the staff sponsor for a bible-study group that he was pulling together. the school administration had probably thought that telling him that he needed sponsorship would discourage him from pursuing the idea further.

when he reported back to the office that he had found a staff sponsor, he was still turned down on the grounds that, because the school could not provide staff sponsors to work through the koran or the torah or the baghavad gita, they could not in good conscience allow me to sponsor a bible study group.

i guess pluralism can be an enemy to freedom of expression in some contexts. this kid is a teacher in a private school now...

yet in my classroom here, the students were just praying.

i discussed this whole deal once with a colleague who had heard the student announcements over intercom on tuesday mornings...

(the group has met on wednesday mornings for the last four years or so)

... and was interested in the implications of the education act here in saskatchewan, canada, concerning religious instruction being provided by STF members.

very good question: was i providing this kind of instruction for the students, or simply allowing them to provide it for each other?

i maintained that this activity is students leading students... that there was no staff sponsorship- just a public school teacher who believed that what these students were engaging in was not only positively affecting the students involved, but was probably a redeeming factor of hope for the future of this community in general.

after the conversation, another who had been seated at the table leaned over and said 'if it ever gets heavy for you, the kids can meet in my room...'

so this morning the kids are talking about the difference between the faith of their parents which they have passively accepted, and a personal faith which will drive them through the decisions of life on fallen planet earth.

interesting alternative spin: the student leadership advisor for this school just approached me about the possibility of using the building of the church that i pastor at for an off-site leadership development mini-conference for student leaders.

you know the cynical remark i made about pluralism earlier? the operative word was 'can'... the not-so-specific expression of possibility.

yep- this road is going both ways.
this is a good day to be alive.

'future's so bright...'

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Monday, May 01, 2006

dare you to move


pete townshend, guitar player of the who, wrote an insightful rock opera seria about a 'deaf dumb and blind kid' whose personal journey of enlightenment serves as a metaphor for the spiritual state of the masses.

tommy's salvation song/sermon on the mount goes like this:

I’m free-I’m free,
And freedom tastes of reality,
I’m free-I’m free,
And I’m waiting for you to follow me.

If I told you what it takes to reach the highest high,
You’d laugh and say ’nothing’s that simple’
But you’ve been told many times before- Messiahs pointed to the door
And no one had the guts to leave the temple!

I’m free-I’m free
And freedom tastes of reality
I’m free-I’m free
And I’m waiting for you to follow me.

and the people said:

How can we follow?

in the world of the blind where the popeye is king, people are longing for vision and it does not matter to people where the vision comes from or, in many cases (when we think of jim jones, david koresh, charlie manson or any given dictator in history as examples) where the vision ultimately leads.

the herd just wants the warmth of membership, living or dying together.

tommy's traumatic childhood experience of having faithfully waited for his father to return from service overseas (in spite of all encouragement by his mother and her new beau to give up hope) only to witness his father's murder upon returning, triggers an autism that leaves him stimming in front of a mirror until his mother finally snaps in her guilt and regret and shatters the thing.

upon having his own image, the object of his veneration, shattered, tommy metaphorically steps out of his old two-dimensional limitations and returns to the physical world with some new insight into the human condition. no longer gazing at himself, his gaze turns outward only to find others equally as self-preoccupied with no medical, psychological or spiritual reason for being disengaged apart from good old original sin. he is suddenly aware that, just as he has been silently crying out to know and be known by others, these others have also been trying to break through to him... but are also not a whole lot better at connecting with each other.

so his messianic rescue mission begins, culminating in the realization that, in the end after his followers have moved onto the next flavour of the day as do all the young followers in Jesus Christ Superstar (written and recorded the same year by andrew lloyd webber and tim rice with an all-star studio cast including deep purple's ian gillan in the role of Jesus), not only is he and has he always been alone in his enlightenment, but those whom he seeks to rescue have to truly desire the unsettling change implications of vision over the comfort of socially entropic conformity.

the character of tommy is a guru- the whole piece was written and dedicated to pete townshend's spiritual director, meher baba. it is important to delineate a difference between pop-gurus and Jesus. where a guru is a man or woman with strong spiritual insight, Jesus was and is and is to be the second person of the trinity. at the centre of the guru's being is an eternal soul that will one day face God without all of the insulation of fallen humanness; at the centre of Jesus is his Godship. this is a crucial theological difference.

but the people who do or don't follow are suffering from the same spiritual condition and seeking the same thing: completion and a meaningful connection in both physical and metaphysical terms. we're all in there somewhere and we all have to sort out which we prefer, the recognizable image in the mirror or the possible future that exists outside the perceptual window that is outlined by the mirror's frame- the only way to engage in this future is to turn around and face a world framed by nothing but the things which we cannot see. (1cor13.12)

once we start actively looking for reality, the journey to whom we were created to be begins. until then, we are arrested in our development, suspecting that perhaps there is something deeper than that which we can experience while remaining in front of the mirror gazing at an image of ourselves, but incapable of breaking free of our self-indulgence, our addictions and our desire to be like God.

sad thing is that we are already like God, having been created in his image in the first place.

john wesley said:
the image was, first, a natural image, a picture of His own immortality, a spiritual being, with understanding, freedom of will, and various affections. it was, likewise, a political image, the governor of this lower world, having dominion over the fish of the sea and over all the earth. but it was chiefly God's moral image in which man was created, which, according to the apostle, is 'righteousness and true holiness' (eph4.24). in this righteous and holy moral image of God, man was made.

'God is love' (Ijohn4.8,16). accordingly, man at his creation, was full of love; it was the sole principle of his tempers, thoughts, words and actions. God is full of justice, mercy and truth; so was man as he came from the hand of his creator. God is spotless purity; and so was man, in the beginning, pure from every sinful blot. otherwise, God could not have pronounced him 'very good' (gen1.31). there is no medium: an intelligent creature not loving God, not righteous and not holy, is not good at all, much less to be pronounced by God 'very good.'

so our state at creation was 'very good.'

man was made in the image of God, yet he was not made immutable, unchangeable. this would have been inconsistent with the state of trial in which God was pleased to place him. we was, therefore, created to be able to stand, but liable to fall...

(wesley goes on to say that adam/humankind...) lost both the knowledge and love of God without which the image of God could not subsist. he was therefore deprived of this image at the same time and became unholy as well as unhappy. instead of having the image of God, he had sunk into pride and self-will, the very image of the devil, and into sensual appetites and desires, the image of the beasts...

(john wesley, exerpted from sermon XXXIX: the new birth)

yeah, i know that i already included this in a comment box a few days ago, but it bears, at the very least, a copy and paste here. our search for ourselves is and has always been our search for God, not because we are gods, but because we are God's.