In the Image of God

Although man was created on the sixth day of the creation week along with animals and like the animals are dependent upon God for life and breath, humanity differs greatly from the rest of earth’s creatures for we alone have been created “in the image of God.” In the Genesis account of creation we read: “And God made the beasts of the earth…and the cattle…and everything that creeps on the ground…and saw that it was good. THEN God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish…the cattle…and over every creeping thing’…And 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 rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:25-28). We were not a part of the animal world that somehow evolved to the top of the food chain (as taught to our children in public school as scientific fact), but we were made special, in God’s image, to rule over God’s creation. We were given the responsibility of stewardship over the earth and the life on the earth. We, being made in God’s likeness, are charged with the duty of acting as His agents in this world. We, as the Psalmist wrote, are the “crown” of God’s creation, not some ape-became-man over millions of years of evolutionary process. “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place; what is man, that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? You made him a little lower than God, and crowned him with glory and honor! You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put all things under his feet” (Psa. 8:3-6).

     This recognition that we have been made in God’s image, the crown of His creation, is basic to human ethics as we see in Gen.9:6: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.”  Our treatment of others is really shaped by our view of them as to whether they are the product of time and chance, just a “warmed over ape,” or whether they are unique creations from the hand of God who made them according to His likeness. Unfortunately, because of the teaching of evolution throughout our public education system now for many years, we have a generation of young and middle-aged folks who do not have a concept of the sanctity of human life and we are reaping the sad consequences of that in the decisions being made by our governmental authorities.
     It was so refreshing, while we were in Oregon recently, to attend an awards dinner for our grandson’s third and fourth grade basketball team. It was the end of their season and the coach invited all the players and their families to attend a pizza night where he presented awards to the boys. Our grandson, Luke, a third grader was on that team, so we got to attend the dinner. Most of the players on the team were from North Clackamas Christian School where our son and daughter-in-law teach. The coach for the team is an area pastor and frequent speaker at chapel at NCCS.  He had a blast coaching this team–which lost only one game–and obviously really loves these young boys. He had each player come up and stand by him as he talked about how proud he was of them and how he saw such godly potential in their lives to become great servants for God. He mentioned some special quality, such as patience, determination, leadership, joy, etc., that he saw in each one. No matter what their physical talents, he observed characteristics in each that are the result of their being made in the image of God. His words were so encouraging and a challenge as well for these young boys to become all that God intends for them to be. What a blessing to have such a godly coach whose love for his players and words of encouragement will have a great impact on their young lives. He definitely recognized each boy as being unique, but all reflecting something of the image of God. The final boy he introduced was a player who had made only one basket during the season. He dramatically described the scene of that game and how the basket came about and how proud he was of this boy for never giving up and for driving to the basket that game and scoring for his team. It brought tears to our eyes to listen to him praise this young man.
     I couldn’t help but think of how, in spite of our weaknesses and failures because of our sin nature, God sees such potential in us as well. Take Gideon, for example. When we first meet him in Scripture, he is hiding from the Midianites–attempting to covertly thresh wheat in a winepress (Judges 6:11). (That must have been challenging since he would normally do it in an open place where the wind could blow the chaff away!) The Angel of the Lord (pre-incarnate Christ) appeared to him and said, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor! (Judges 6:12). God obviously was not referring to what Gideon was, but what he would become by the strength God provided. I’m reminded too of Peter in the New Testament. One of the first to follow Jesus was Andrew and he brought his brother Simon to meet Jesus, saying, “We have found the Messiah (which translated means Christ)…Jesus looked at him, and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas’ (which translated means Peter)” (John 1:41,42).  Peter was kind of a loose cannon who often acted impulsively and foolishly, but he would become Peter (meaning ”rock”), someone solid who would be a leader in the early church. He was a “sand man who became a rock man!”  Jesus saw in him, as in Gideon, what he, by the grace of God, would become.
     A culture that sees humans as little more than intelligent animals will treat people like animals or worse (e.g., the holocaust in Germany, the ethnic cleansing in many African nations, abortion in our own country). The Apostle Paul warned us to “not let the world squeeze you into its mold” (Ro. 12:2). Train your vision to see the image of the divine, even in those people you find difficult to like. Showing respect for others is one way to show reverence to God, by acknowledging that each person is made in the image of God, after His likeness, and in spite of the marring of sin, is precious in His sight.
                                        Forever His,
                                                Pastor Dave

About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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