Imago Dei, part 2

There is so much more to this thing about “being made in God’s image” than I really want to take time to discuss. All I want to do is share some thoughts from a few different angles.

Found this picture. Had to add it. ūüėÄ

Last time we looked at the job that God intends for his image bearers to carry out – tending to, caring for, and ruling over the rest of creation. This is the first and foremost responsibility given to human beings. That word “responsibility” will come into play several more times.

So here are some more thoughts on the Imago Dei. I’ll try and keep it brief.

1. All humans are created in God’s image. That’s right. All¬†humans bear His image – male and female; red, yellow, black, and white; rich and poor; slave and free; alcoholics, homosexuals, and devout Christians. We have a tendency to place people into various categories when we encounter those different from ourselves. We see a middle-aged, black female who is a single mother living on welfare. Judgments are made, and stereotypes are created.

But when we let the truth of Imago Dei really sink in and take root in our own lives, we will begin to see everyone around us as fellow image-bearers. Prejudice and discrimination have no chance to manifest themselves. Hatred, bigotry, and oppression cease completely. Everyone is made in the image of the same Creator, and that Creator loves each one of us.

2. The image has been tainted. Each one of us has vandalized the very image of the One who created us. Although we have been given this great privilege, we have thrown it back in His face. We think things like, We never asked for this! We never wanted to live up to the standard which God has set for us! It’s not fair. It’s too much responsibility. I just want to live my life the way that seems best to me.

And we just go our own way, minding our own business, not giving a second thought to the honor bestowed upon us.

This type of thinking then leads to a radically¬†individualistic¬†mindset. The product of which is the type of justification for sin that we see all around us. Lady Gaga even puts the justification to song and dance with her new hit “Born This Way.” If we reject the image of God for our own image, then we have no responsibility other than to ourselves. It comes quite naturally, then, that we were hardwired from birth to make certain decisions with our lives: be it alcoholism, drug addiction, habitual lying, homosexuality, or any number of lifestyles which are considered sinful in Scripture.

3. The image can be restored. God has taken it upon himself to provide a way for his tainted image to be made clear again. He did this by coming down to earth as a man, living from birth to death as one of his own imagers. He showed us what it meant to be human, to be the image of God in this world – and we killed him for it.

Yet, through his resurrection from the dead, we, too, can have true life once again. By his blood, we are made clean. By his wounds, we are healed. By his sacrifice, humanity can be set right again, and we can all get back to bearing proudly the image of the One who made us and then re-made us.

Beginning

It is my general understanding that almost everything we need to know about God can be discovered within the opening chapters of the Bible. Genesis 1-11 are some of the most controversial, most hotly debated chapters in Scripture. Are they literal 24 hour days during creation? Was there really a Garden in Eden? Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons? How could Noah fit all the animals on the ark? Could there really have been a global flood?

Many of these narratives have been passed off as Sunday school flannel board stories. Rarely do we revisit these chapters as adults to try and figure out why are they in the Bible? Why did God choose to open the most important book in all of human history with such outrageous sounding stories? Or maybe they’re not so outrageous if we just tweak our own modern/postmodern worldview a bit.

So let’s begin in the beginning.

Genesis 1:1 — “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Thus begins the greatest story ever told.

Now for a little English lesson. The verb in this sentence is “created.” The subject of the sentence is “God.” The Bible begins by letting us know that God’s first act in history was creating. Now, I can go outside, nail some wood together, and build a birdhouse. Then I can come inside, mix up some flour, sugar, etc. and bake a cake. I can then proceed to pick up and clean up around the house to get things in order. But at the end of the day I have not “created” anything.

When God creates, He is intentional, He is purposeful, and His creation is perfect. God’s act of creating brings to mind an artist who slaves over mixing just the right color and using just the right brush stroke until his masterpiece is completed. Hours upon hours may be spent in the tedious labor, but the end result is a priceless work of art that can never be replicated.

If you look back into other creation stories at the time this was written, you’ll see a themes of chaos (roaring oceans and terrible storms) or battles between other gods or some other way in which the earth was simply an accidental by-product of some disaster.

But in this story, a singular God took his own time to create, purposefully and intentionally, the heavens and the earth and everything between and within.

Just reflect on this verse for a moment.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

In the beginning

God created

the heavens and the earth.

Our God is not a god to be feared and appeased but one to be worshiped and embraced. He is not up there somewhere looking for an excuse to strike us down or destroy the world. That would be as absurd as Leonardo da Vinci throwing darts at the Mona Lisa or Michaelangelo taking a jackhammer to David.

In Ephesians 2:10, Paul tells us that we are God’s poiema, from which we get our word poem. We are his workmanship, his creation, his masterpiece. Every single person is God’s creation. That means that you and I and everyone of the 6 billion people on this earth has value, has meaning, has a purpose.

If that’s not good news, I don’t know what is. All I know is that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and you and me.