IMAGE | 40 Days of Focus, Day 6


And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
(Genesis 1:24-25)

Day Four (sun, moon, and stars) was about filling Day 1 (light and dark). Day 5 (fish and birds) was about filling Day 2 (waters and sky). Finally, Day 6 (land animals) is about filling Day 3 (land and vegetation).

One thing I find interesting about Days 5 and 6 is that God uses creation to do the creating. “Let the waters teem with life” and “let the land produce living creatures.” Life comes from non-life. That’s a statement that has sparked a lot of scientific debate over the years. Scientists are still trying to discover just how that happened. Why is there life instead of non-life? I have no idea when it comes to the nuts and bolts of it, but it does seem that wherever God is, there is life. Once everything was in place on this planet, life was virtually inevitable.

Or as we see in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.”

People often wonder about the seeming conflict between science and faith. Do we take Genesis 1 literally? If so, then what about evolution? What about dinosaurs?

Frankly, that’s not what the creation song is about. It’s not interested in the science of creation. It’s not even written with a scientific worldview in mind. It predates the scientific method. One more time for people in the back: Genesis is not about science. Science is concerned with discovering the how. Genesis is more interested in the who and why. The God of the Bible creates out of love and community, and his creation is imbibed with a sense of purpose and order – and it was good.

The writer of Genesis 1 depicts three basic groups of animals – domesticated livestock, wild untamed beasts, and reptiles. Add those to fish and birds, and that’s basically the way the ancients understood the natural world.

But then…

God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
(Genesis 1:26-31)

Another question scientists try to answer is What separates humans from animals? Technically, human beings are mammals, and we’re closely related on a DNA level to primates like chimpanzees and bonobos. But as far as we know, human beings are the only sentient, self-aware, conscious beings in the entire universe. Some would say that we’re no different than the non-human animals. I think the fact that we can make those kind of assertions proves that we are different.

Where does consciousness come from? Where does our sense of love and community and justice come from? Where does our morality come from?

I believe it has something to do with the very Image and Likeness of God embedded into each and every homo sapien on the planet. There is a little bit of God’s own nature inside each one of us. Forgetting or ignoring that fact has led to some of the greatest atrocities in history – persecution, genocide, hate crimes, slavery, human trafficking. When we dismiss the Imago Dei inside our brother or sister, we dehumanize them. Only when we dehumanize them in our minds can we justify violent actions against them.

Every living creature has the “breath of life” in it, but only humans bear the likeness of God. Thus we are his ambassadors and co-rulers. We are tasked with the creative process, ruling over and tending to the rest of creation just as God would do.

This is why, I believe, that Jesus says the greatest command in Scripture is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength – AND – to love your neighbor as yourself. Or as John would put it:

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
(1 John 4:20)

Love for God and love for others cannot be separated because God has created us in his own image. Or as Victor Hugo would write in his famous novel Les Miserables, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.


How would the world be different if we all acknowledged the Image of God in each other human being we encountered every day?

Why is it so difficult to remember that all people are created in God’s likeness?

What are some specific ways we can live out the mission God gave us?

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. 😀

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.

Imago Dei, part 1

Why are we here?

This is a fundamental worldview question with which mankind has wrestled since the beginning. Although we ourselves are mammals, and although we share many similar qualities with certain other mammals, when I look around, I can tell there is something unique about human beings. I have heard people say that the only characteristic separating us from the rest of the animal kingdom is our intelligence. Yet there are animals that are extremely intelligent and community oriented, just like us. (And according to others, humans are only the third smartest race on the planet…)

So what is it that really separates man from beast? I believe the answer to this question is also the answer to the original question: the Imago Dei, or the Image of God for you non-Latin speakers.

It is true that humanity is closely linked with the rest of the animal kingdom. Mammals and humans were created on the same day. Genesis 1:20 even says that all the animals have the “breath of life” in them – the same breath given to Adam.

The real difference comes when God says, Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.”

Ok, so humans made in the image of the Creator. This is something new, something special. God actually stepped back for a moment, looked at all He had created, and decided to create beings to bear his image to the rest of creation. Well, why?

Apparently, being one of God’s mini-me’s comes with a job description: “They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground”…Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

I chose the New Living Translation for this passage. Unfortunately, the job description/blessing given in these verses has been misinterpreted and abused. People used to understand “rule over/have dominion over” as permission to do with the earth and the animals as we saw fit…and we see how well that worked out. The world is not ours to do with as we please. As the NLT puts it, we are to reign over and govern the rest of creation.

Think of it as a prime minister/ambassador/vassal king position. We are ruling, watching over, and tending to that which ultimately belongs to someone else. We have been given the charge to participate with the Creator in the creative process by tending to, caring for, and governing the rest of creation.

There are other aspects to the Imago Dei which I will explore later, but first I wanted to address the most obvious side of the image of God. Each and every one of us continues to bear the image of the Creator to the rest of creation. Are we making every effort to live up to that image? 
Or are we living as though we have no responsibility to the world around us? Are we healing or destroying? Are we creating or killing? Are we caring or exploiting?

In every aspect of our lives, we should be striving to bear proudly the image of the One who lovingly created it all.