Imaging God: Incarnational Community Reaching 21st Century Generations
As I said in my previous post, evangelical Christians have been reading God's story of humanity by starting in chapter 2 (the FALL) instead of chapter 1 (the CREATION). The story has several chapters, and we misread all the other chapters without beginning at the beginning.
Before we jump to chapters 2-6, we must read and understand chapter 1. It all begins with God creating everything – the heavens and the earth. This creator God, as we learn from the New Testament, is Jesus Christ.
“For in him (Jesus Christ) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16, see also the opening verses of the Gospel of John).
So, when we read “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” in the first verse of Genesis, we must understand that the entire Godhead—that is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—created everything. A case can be made that God the Father created through the Word (he spoke everything into existence—“Let there be…”—if you’ll remember Genesis), and this is exactly what Jesus is called in the opening chapter of the Gospel of John. Jesus is the Word, and “through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-3). And notice also that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” in Genesis 1:2.
Genesis 1 tells in poetic language how God created everything in an very orderly manner. God is the creator of light, of sky, of seas and land, of lights in the sky, of sea creatures and sky creatures, and then of land creatures. Each of these creative acts began with God proclaiming things into existence. But then, after God says, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds,” the kind of proclamation of creation shifts. All of a sudden, there’s a dialogue.
“Let us make human beings 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.” (Genesis 1:26).
Let us? In our image? In our likeness? Whoa. Something has changed here. This particular creature is different from all the rest of the Creation. It has been a glorious process so far—God’s amazing creative power on display. Each of these parts of creation are amazing—light, sky, seas, land, birds, fish and other water creatures, animals on the land. But with humanity, there is a difference. God, speaking in the plural, talks to God…and says, “Let’s make human beings in our image, in our likeness.”
This is the beginning of the gospel. If we do not start here, the rest of the story does not make sense. We must understand the meaning of human beings being created in the image and likeness of God.
The image of God has several nuanced and inter-related aspects to it. Each aspect helps us understand the purpose of being human. I should have put “purpose” somewhere in the title of this blog post, since the image of God brings us to the very essence of what it means to be a human with purpose. The word “Purpose” sells books, after all! For all of us who want to have a God-centered life, a Christ-like life, and, yes, a purpose-driven life, here it is.
When God created human beings in the Triune divine image, God created us to Reflect, to Represent, to Relate, and to Redeem.
technorati: image of god, imago Dei, emerging church, theology