By Published On: January 11th, 2023Categories: Leader Blog, Meditation for Preparation0 Comments

Images of God; Likeness Toward Creation.

Read Genesis 1:26 – 2:3 (ESV)

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

Made In God’s Image – Toward God

In their book Ethics as Worship, North Wake Member Mark Liederbach and Evan Lenox write that some ancient monarchs would install statues in areas they had conquered. “By placing a statue or image of himself in a region, the king was establishing his authority and right to rule that part of the kingdom even in his absence. Thus, when God declares human beings to be his image-bearers, he is establishing the fact that they are to be his visible representatives in the created world. As such, they are to function with a derived authority to act as God would act and rule over the created order as God himself would.” [Ethics as Worship]

Imagine you’re a manager in a business, Smith Clothiers. Mrs. Smith owns the business, and she delegates authority to you to run many aspects of the business. Because the business carries her name, you are representing her and her reputation. 

If you are respectful to your employees and offer a good product, then Mrs. Smith’s reputation is enhanced. If you are dishonest or cruel or inefficient, then Mrs. Smith loses respect in the community.

The world we live in bear’s God’s name — He’s visible to everyone! 

A Dirty Image. God made us to show what He’s like, but the curse of sin and our own choices distort that view. Men and women, all images of God, are tempted daily to live in ways that point to us instead of God. Just like a filthy mirror makes the real thing look spotted and dirty, our own sins make it hard for others to see what God is really like. But God has provided a remedy for the damage we are causing! Jesus’s work on the cross in dying for us and accepting responsibility for our sins allows us to be cleaned and forgiven. And not only that – God promises to glorify everyone who trusts in Christ, so that we can see and show how wonderful he truly is.

The Apostle Paul lamented how his life was not what he wanted it to be due to his own sin, but Jesus is his remedy:

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Romans 7:22-25 (ESV)

The Apostle Peter seems to pick up this idea of “imaging” God’s glory in 1 Peter 1:6-7 when he says that the trials of our life are means of refining us so that we better reflect God’s glory.

Perhaps this is why confession and repentance are to be parts of our life together as Christians (James 5:16). Our sins ruin the image of God we show to others, and so our confession is a recognition — and a rejection — of the bad image we have shown.

Lean On God – Father, You made me show what you’re like to the world! But so often my sin and failures completely obscure the view of you. Thank you for your son, Jesus, who died for my sin. Please work in me so that I can vigorously work to become more like Him and show the world what you’re like!

Made In God’s Likeness – Toward Creation

But humans were not just made in the image of God; we are also made to be like God toward Creation. Now imagine again you’re a manager at Smith Clothiers. Your job is to do what Mrs. Smith wishes you to do both for the good of the customers and the business. You represent Mrs. Smith to the employees. You use her resources to bring the good she intended toward clients and the business; if she would want a clean storefront and an attractive product, then it is your job to bring it about.

We humans were made to be part of creation and also managers of creation. We were made to bring about God’s goals in creation through proper care of the world He made and to bring the best possible reputation to the Creator. Or, in other words, we’re made to be stewards of creation who bring glory to God.

Liederbach and Lenox write:  “As image-bearers, [human beings] still carry an authority over the rest of creation, but in this role they use their position and authority to rally and guide the created order back up to God. They are set apart as part of creation to govern it, care for it, shape it, use it, and ultimately present it back to him.God uniquely designed humans to play the role of mediator between God and nature.” See the diagram below.

In God’s “Likeness,” we’re to be working toward His goals for all creation. I confess that, at points, I have failed to properly care for creation as I should. I thought that as long as I accepted responsibility for damage I may cause, I was not doing any real wrong. For example, I acted as if I thought, “So what if I carelessly break something as long as I pay to repair it.” But God has changed my mind, showing me that it’s my job to participate in His creative, caring work for the world and not simply to clean up the messes I make.

God has made us in his Image and Likeness, and if you ask Him, He will guide you to understand what He means in this and how you can honor His design for your life. 

Lean On God – Jesus, creator of the world, you hold all things together. My sin has led me to waste, carelessness, and other actions where I’ve failed to act as you would toward the world. By your spirit in me, give me the ability to be a champion of your purposes and plans toward everybody and everything you have made!

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash