In Beginning 05: God’s Image

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”

God’s Image
Genesis 1:26-31

This passage teaches us several things. When the passage refers to God creating man, it says, “Let us make man in our image.” The main emphasis of the Jews is that God is one, but their word for God is plural. It may seem a contradiction, but it is quite true; God is both plural and singular. God being three persons in one person is taught in the Bible from the very beginning. That is not a logical understanding of God but is a mystery. It is not surprising that trying to understand the nature of God could result in a mystery. Later this month, I will teach a C. S. Lewis seminar. I like to include in that teaching the limits of logic in understanding life, let alone its limits in understanding God. Much of what we know is not reasonable and pure reason will not cause you to arrive at a true understanding of the universe. The basic nature of God is one of those things that can’t be understood by logical derivation from what we see; it comes mainly from revelation.

Another teaching in this passage is that He created humankind, male and female, in His image. He has created many things, but only humans are created in His image. We might wonder what it means to be made in the image of God. Does it mean that God has fingernails? I’m not so sure about the fingernails, but I think God created us as reflectors of Himself. We tend to reflect who or what we care most about. In his sermonette, David told us that he is a lot like his grandfather. That comes from genes, but it also comes from loving our family members and, as a result, becoming like them. You may admire a person who is very wealthy and may subconsciously become like that person. That is what comes from being made as image bearers. You may admire a rock star and may not have his musical talent but may become a selfish person like he is.

God made us as image bearers that we may bear His image in His creation. We are to be God’s reflectors. When God made Adam and Eve, they walked in the garden with Him, knowing and loving Him. He must have been the person they most loved and admired; as a result, they became like Him. They were created to bear His image. No other creature or thing is said to bear God’s image. They may show something of what God is like as an artist, but they do not bear the image of God.

These past few days we have had our grandchildren with us, so that means I have been watching several children’s movies. I must admit I become weary of most of them, not so much because they are made for children, that part is actually interesting, but I get tired of all sorts of animals who talk to each other and treat each other very nicely. It seems to be teaching that the animals bear the image of God. Animals really aren’t that nice to each other; they attack and eat each other. The movies seem to depict that something other than humankind bears the image of God. The animals in those movies are actually a lot nicer than most people and may be depicted as being more God-like than the people the kids know. However, animals aren’t like that in the created world; they are all out to defend their own turf. They are also all trying to get enough to eat, and that often means eating each other. I hope kids know that real animals aren’t like the ones in their movies and will even learn that men and women are the real image bearers of God.

In chapter two, the Bible teaches that we have a problem being image bearers. Men and women have decided to bear their own image instead of reflecting God’s image. We have eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and have become our own moral guides; we have become like gods, second-rate gods. We think we can do whatever we begin to reflect ourselves. Some think that with education we can either become better gods or learn to reflect the true God. It just does not happen that way. From my experience, even at universities, there are professors who seem to see themselves as second rate-deities. They act as though they run the universe, or at least know how it runs.

Unfortunately, God also created us to have dominion over the world, even if we have lost our ability to reflect God in the way we live. We have that dominion whether we want it or not. What we do has a more significant impact on our world than what any other creature does. We can use our dominion to act as God wants us to, but we usually use it to act like second-rate deities. We end up protecting our own turf, just like the animals do.

The disaster that followed the Katrina disaster happened because those who were supposed to be leaders were actually more concerned with protecting their own turf. The local, state, and federal officials all seemed to mainly be motivated by protecting their turf and passing blame to others. Even those who reported the news were more interested in gaining ratings by reporting rumors rather than taking the time to check out facts. We have all become second-rate deities each protecting his own turf. There are very few who humbly try to do what God wants them to do. In the Katrina disaster, the victims more likely were humbling trying to do God’s will than those who were “leading” them or reporting what was happening to them. Humbly seeking to do what God has called us to do is the only way we can reflect the image of God in our world; otherwise, we are only reflecting our own image. We have dominion but when we use it as though we are second-rate deities, we bring great destruction to our world. We are to love God and then from His reflection of God we are to exercise our dominion over the world.

It is not only those who are in the world who operate as second rate-deities. There are many in the Church who work to protect their own turf more than they seek to do God’s will. Most often it is those who do not have much power who have learned to humbly submit to the Lord and seek to reflect His image in the world rather than their own. God has called us to know God and walk with Him as Adam and Eve did. As we walk with Him, we begin to take on His image and reflect that as we have dominion over the world.

The most important thing that we do in our lives may be to take the communion. We meet the Lord at this table and we remember we are God’s children. That intimate walk with God forms us so we might learn to walk humbly in the world. It is that walk with the Lord, not our education or talents, that enables us to rightly use the dominion we have over the world. God is to be the ruler over our talents and education that we might rightly use them.

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