Sometimes it’s hard to believe people are ‘Made in the image of God.’ I mean, look at us! Look around at what’s happening in the world, how people act, and how miserably we treat one another. Humanity looks anything but God-like.

Even though the evidence is disheartening, I’m still optimistic. I like people, I enjoy learning their stories, I sympathize with their struggles, and I understand how people can own different points of view so long as I remember to listen to their hearts.

Listening to someone’s heart means learning who they are, what moves them, and what they care about. That’s where we begin to recognize the image of God. That’s where we begin to understand we are brothers and sisters, where I begin to listen, where I begin to know you, to value you, and in so doing catch a glimpse of the beating heart of God.

Growing God’s Kingdom is not realized via the imposition of religious code or insisting on our definition of faith, but in the expanding and deepening of authentic community.

If I believe I am right and you are wrong, how has that judgment advanced God’s purpose? But if I listen to your heart until I hear the heartbeat of God echo in your soul, then we both begin to understand that because of God’s great love we are brothers and sisters.

Think about eternal truth, about the fact that the Great I Am lives beyond the confines of time and space, think about the limitations of human thought, expression, and vocabulary. Let all that sink in. Now tell me that your limited knowledge, or your narrow interpretation, can exclude any of God’s children from Christ’s simple invitation?

Being created in the image of God is our common inheritance. Loving one another is the only option we have. But we can’t do that if we are not, first, prepared to listen to one another’s hearts, and to open our own.

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Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at