John T. Willis

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I know the plans I have for you--8

Within the context of groups of people, God works in relationship with individuals. Genesis 1-11 sets the stage for the entire Bible by emphasizing: "Then God said, 'Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:26-27. This same truth is repeated in Genesis 5:1-3; 9:5-6; James 3:9. Through the centuries, religious thinkers and scholars have held numerous ideas about the meaning of human beings being made in the image and likeness of God. Here are some examples. 1. The physical form of a human being is the same as God. Here some appeal to the word "image" in Hebrew concerning man-made idols shaped in the form of human beings. 2. A human being is upright and thus different from all other creatures like monkeys, snakes, etc. 3. Being made in the likeness of God has to do with the spiritual nature of a human being in contrast to the outward body. The views go on and on. In my opinion, the contexts in Genesis 1; 5; 9; James 3 suggest that human beings being made in the likeness and image of God has to do with four important concepts. A. God created human beings in his IMAGE and LIKENESS emphasizes that human beings are not God, but inferior to God. Hence, our function is to be subservient to God, to be humble, to be followers of God. Like Eve, according to Genesis 3:5, 22, all of us WANT to be GOD. We all want to gain notoriety, to be LEADERS, to gain power over other people, to be superior. The fundamental human problem is PRIDE, SELF-CENTEREDNESS, INGRATITUDE. From the very beginning, GOD declares that we human beings are made or created in the LIKENESS and IMAGE of God, but we are NOT GOD. Humility is the first letter in the alphabet of Christianity. B. God created human beings in his IMAGE and LIKENESS stresses that human beings are NOT animals or any other types of creatures. Human beings are UNIQUE. Psalm 8:4-8 clearly portrays the role of human beings: "What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? You have MADE them a little LOWER than God, and CROWNED them with glory and honor. You have GIVEN them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas." Hence, human beings must not behave like animals. Fornication, adultery, all sexual perversities, and the like lower human beings beneath their created function under God. See Romans 1:22-32. C. God designed human beings to be REPRESENTATIVES to the rest of creation on earth. Throughout the ancient Near East, different peoples made images of kings in nations beyond their own nation. God as our only KING expects human beings to represent HIS presence on earth. D. By creating human beings in his own image and likeness, God naturally empowered human beings to enjoy a special intimate, daily, personal relationship with God. No other creation can enjoy this intimate relationship. Hence, we can pray and meditate and ponder and think and relate to God. This VISION of God is closely related to the broader relationship that God has with groups of people. It is a major mistake for the Western World to assume that EACH INDIVIDUAL is related to God IN ISOLATION. This is impossible because of the way God has WIRED all of us. Our PERSONAL relationship to God is strong and important, but NOT SEPARATED FROM all other human beings. No human being can be a genuine human being without being in strong relationship with other human beings. Share YOUR fears and hesitations and reversals and choices with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis


  • Good thoughts. I like your first point especially! Do you think your point B is the reason God formed man, but all other aspects of the cosmos came through his spoken word?

    By Blogger David Miller, at 6:27 AM  

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