Today’s reading is drawn from Genesis 1:26-27.
THE CLIMAX OF THE CREATIVE WEEK is God’s creation of humanity. The stars and planets are in place. The sun is ready to rule the day and the moon the night. The seas and the land have been formed. The plants and trees are bursting with life and in full bloom. Then God brings humanity onto the scene. It almost appears anticlimactic until we see that there is something altogether distinct about God’s creation of the man and the woman in Genesis 1:26-27. The plants and animals were not made in His image. The stars too, as magnificent as they are, do not bear God’s likeness. But the man and the woman do.
When God said, “Let us make human beings in our image,” He was saying, in effect, “Humanity will be unlike anything I have created. No other being has a heart to love Me. No other created being has a mind to know Me or a will to obey Me. Nothing else in all of My creation has a destiny of eternity like these creatures will have. I will make humans distinct. They will have imago Dei, ‘the image of God,’ stamped on them. Only they will have a capacity within them to love and know and obey Me.”
When we use the word image in our culture, our minds imagine something external and short-lived. We talk about celebrities, corporations, or brands that protect “their image.” An “image” in these cases has more to do with perception than reality. But when we speak of the image of God, we’re not talking about God’s appearance as projected and presented through humanity. We’re talking about portraying who God is. In a unique and amazing way, human beings relate to God and reflect something of His character and nature.
What does it mean to be made in God’s image? Theologians have spilled oceans of ink on this topic, but I will offer a few simple proposals. Humans have a capacity not found in animals. God communicates with us in a way He does not communicate with animals. There are inner, secret chambers within our being where the Lord connects with us. He prods us with inner promptings. He urges He moves, He convicts, He directs, He stops, He guards, He guides. When God made us, He gave us more than a body: He gave us an immaterial soul—a spirit. Animals do not have a spirit. They have no connection with God except by way of instinct and the natural order of things.
When God created the first humans, He made them have a sense of community, connection, and communication with the One who fashioned them. But once sin entered the world, that connection broke down. It wasn’t erased, but it was defaced. It wasn’t destroyed; it was damaged. We live with a defaced and damaged image today. Nevertheless, unlike animals, we are able to connect with our God in the inner person.
Bearing the image of God means that humans have dignity. It also means that God has entrusted us with the responsibility and the capacity to love and obey Him.
The image of God is who we are as human beings. It is our most basic, original calling. God calls us to live in His image—in the light of who He is and who He has made us to be.
[call out text: God created humans to have community, connection, and communication with the One who fashioned them.]