In God’s Image

Genesis 1:1 – 31

The story of creation goes like this:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years…

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

26 And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

“Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26).

We are made in God’s likeness.

What does that mean?  Does it mean that we look like God, physically?  I’m made in my dad’s likeness – I have his straight hair and a little bit of his cowlick.  I’m made in my mom’s likeness – we wore the same clothes, our bodies were so similar.  

Are we like God in this same way?  Does God have a head and a body, arms and legs, eyes and a nose?

I mean, maybe.  But that doesn’t seem like the most important way in which we’re made in God’s image.

I mean, the most important way in which I’m made in my parents’ images has nothing to do with looks.  I’m competitive like my father.  I love to laugh like my mother.  Those traits are more who I am than straight hair or a clothing size.

How about you – how are you made in your parents’ image? 

Some of those traits might make you proud.  You’ve inherited certain skills and personalities that you admired in your mom and dad.  You might also be “made in your parents’ image” in ways that are challenging – family traditions you hope to break.  As wonderful as some of our earthly parents are, none of them are perfect.

But we all have a perfect parent:  God, our creator.  We are made in God’s image.  We can look and see in ourselves ways that we are like God.  Some the most important traits are found within this same first chapter of the Bible.

God is a creator.  God made heavens and earth, water and land, plants and animals.  Six times along the way God stopped and called what God had made, “Good.”  It makes me think of my daughter building a Lego set, or my son setting up track for his matchbox cars.  I love it when they get wrapped up in creating; I love it when they want to show us what they’ve made, so we can see that it’s “good.”

God brings order out of chaos.  I feel this in myself when I spend a few hours on my day off putting the house back in order… and my soul feels happy at the end result.  I see it in my engineering friends when they make an Excel spreadsheet, or my accounting friends with they labor to get the numbers to balance. 

God works in rhythm.  Six times God speaks, God creates, God ends the day by naming things good.  It follows a life-giving pattern.  Then, after those six days of creating God finishes with rest.  We work in rhythm, too.  I see it in children with their bedtime routines.  I see it in our students who start to thrive in their class schedules.  I see it in us adults, who look forward to Friday, who grieve the end of summer and yet know we need to move into a different, quieter rhythm for a season. 

God brings light out of darkness.  This is a harder one for us.  Sometimes the darkness of this world is overwhelming, and we’re tempted to give into it.  Shining a contradictory light can feel futile or pointless or naïve.  But deep down, there is a God-given light in each of us that longs to shine.  To deny that is to live without hope.  Hope calls us to shine our light, even in the face of great darkness.  I see this in our admiration for people like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Corrie Ten Boom or Mother Teresa… but just as importantly in small, everyday light-shining:  people responding to the darkness of a flood with a day of service, or the darkness of hunger with food for a meal, or the darkness of grief with their loving presence.

The creation story tell us that we are made in the image of the God who creates, who brings order out of chaos, who works in rhythm, who shines light in the darkness. 

Do you create?  Do you bring order out of chaos?  Do you work in the rhythm of routine?  Do you shine light in the darkness of this world?  I think you do.  And when you do, it’s evidence of your heavenly, perfect parent.  You are made in the image of the one who made you.

This is important to know, because so often when we flounder at life it’s because we are wandering away from that God-image.  It’d be like if I, the daughter of a woman with a trademark laugh, tried to resist laughing.  In fact, when I’ve gone through sad seasons where I laugh very little, I don’t quite feel like myself.  Or if I, the daughter of a man who is competitive about everything – from his profession to his golf game to how fast he made the drive home this time – started to mis-use that competitive drive.  I’ve had days when I’ve done just that, competing against colleagues to boost my ego, for example.  When I mis-use the trait my dad gave me, I don’t quite feel like myself, either.

We, too, who are made in God’s image, are called to use the traits God gave us and to use them well.  So notice how God has made you to create, to order, to live in rhythm, to shine light.  Notice those qualities and use them as God designed them to be used.  As you do, you’ll find your life beginning to resemble the one Paul once described as “the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation…” (Colossians 1:15):

Jesus Christ.

Amen.

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