So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. – Genesis 1:27
That verse is super-crazy-rocking-awesome. Just sayin’. If you think that you’re not special, just turn to this verse. God loves us so much that he created us “in His own image.” Whatever that means. Does it mean we look like God? Does it mean we are gods ourselves? Does it mean that we act like God? The phrase means none of these in the slightest. Let’s look at what two different theologians say about this particular topic.
Russell M. Grigg, in his article Made in the image of God, draws out three meanings of this phrase.
1. A mental likeness
God endowed human beings with intellectual ability
2. A moral likeness
Man only, of all God’s creatures, has a spirit or God-consciousness, that is, a capacity for knowing God and holding spiritual communion with Him through prayer, praise, and worship
3. A social likeness
Humans like to have relationships with others, and I believe that one of the reasons that we were created was so that we could have a community with God.
The second theologian that we will examine the words of John Stott. In his book, The Contemporary Christian, Stott mentions a “cluster” of privileges that are given to those who are made in the likeness of God. These are: Understanding, Moral Choice, Creativity, Love, and Fellowship.
I like what Grigg has to say, and I suggest that you check out his article. However, let’s use Stott’s “cluster of privileges”, that those made in the likeness of God have in order to wrap our heads around this idea of being created in God’s image.
God has given us a unique ability to understand the workings of the world as well as know Him. Now, our human limitations inhibit our ability to understand God, and while I’m unsure if this is due to the fall of man or not, we must accept that it is so. Other creatures have a rudimentary understanding. Take dogs for instance; dogs can learn many things, tricks, and even schedules. However, dogs cannot understand even the smallest part of God. Our understanding not only separates us from the rest of God’s creation, it elevates us above it.
Okay, so we’re going to keep using dogs as the illustration. I saw a video the other day that was basically, dogs looking sheepish. This may sound silly, but dogs do destructive things because they don’t have a choice. Literally, they don’t know right from wrong and they can’t choose between the two. Humans, however, are different. God has given us the ability to discern right from wrong and to choose between the two. We are not obligated to give in to sin. Actually, an interesting thing that I was thinking of is that animals probably do not experience temptation. However, I’m not going to get into that debate, because it is off-topic ever so slightly.
Have you ever seen those gorillas at (I forget which zoo) that paint and then sell the paintings? You could call that creativity, but when I look at those paintings, I don’t see creativity. It looks like someone put paint on the fingertips of gorillas and they just moved their fingers across the paper. It looks random. Then, when I look around me in Ithaca, New York, a very artistic city, I see massive amounts of creativity and design. I think we’d be boring without our creativity and I also think that God knows this. Again, our creativity not only separates us from the rest of God’s creation, it elevates us above it.
Okay, so cue the dog lovers that say “my dog loves me. Animals have the capacity to love.” I’m going to get myself into trouble here, but I will venture to say that animals cannot love. At least not to the extent that God has made humans able to. Humans are imbued with the potential to love each other, God, and even nature and animals.
This goes back to what Grigg said about it being a social likeness. Humans need to have fellowship with one another and with God. God created us this way. Introvert, extrovert, it doesn’t make a difference, we are all created with an innate need for fellowship.
All of these things round out to a few basic points:
- God made us for a purpose
- God made us to be, not only different from the rest of creation but also superior over it
- He did all of this because He loves us
I want to just take a moment and clear something up; God didn’t create us because He needed us. But He still did create us. I want you to know that I think that is awesome. He made us in His own likeness as His special creation. So why don’t you give Him your life? Make it His to control and not yours. Just think about that.