One of the first things we read in the Bible is that human beings are special to God.
So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
This is so awesome. We are created ‘in the image of God’. This little phrase is like a key we can use to unlock God’s intention for us as human beings.
It tells us where we’ve come from. We are not the product of mindless, cosmic chance, but the treasured possession of a loving God. He thought of us, he wanted us, and so he created us. Although the Bible does not give us a precise definition of the phrase ‘the image of God’, its context in Genesis gives us some clues. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
First, God. Among other things, the opening chapters of Genesis paint a picture of a God who is
creative (God loves making and developing things)
clever (I guess this hardly needs to be said!)
competent (God knows what he’s doing)
relational (God said “Let us make human beings in our image")
good (All that God creates is good, and human beings were the icing on creation’s cake – declared by God to be “very good” v.31)
Second, Us. There’s so much that could be said, but what takes my breath away is that God deliberately made us to be as much like God as it is possible for us to be. He created us to be able to share his own experience of life and love. We were wired to be able to enjoy God’s company, to be his friends. God is, in effect, our ‘natural environment’. On the basis of all of this, one writer has described human beings as “God’s nearest next of kin”.
Third, Christmas No, I know there’s no mention of Christmas in Genesis! And I know I’m taking a bit of a leap. But stay with me, because without our creation ‘in the image of God’, Christmas wouldn’t have been possible.
My train of thought goes like this: God cannot do anything that compromises or contradicts his being God. Put positively, God can only do things that are compatible with being God. In Jesus, God became a fully fledged human being. This tells me that God could become human without compromising being God! Wow. No other creature is made in his image, so God could only have become human. Now that’s what I call special!
So, being made ‘in the image of God’ flags up how special we really are! David, the great king of Israel, celebrated the wonder of being special to God in one of his psalms. It’s Psalm 8 (click below) or click More Guilty Than We Could Ever Have Realised if you’d like to go the next section.
Click here to read Psalm 8 online In Psalm 8, David starts by celebrating the awesome greatness and glory of God. He sees it in the vast, breath-taking expanse and beauty of the universe (verse 3). (Just think how much more he’d be amazed if he knew what we now know!) . But he goes on to wonder in awe that God seems more concerned about people, who appear so small and insignificant by comparison.
But here we have it. Human beings are - creatures of supreme favour: God is ‘mindful’ of us - creatures of special privilege: made a little lower than the heavenly beings (the Hebrew word translated ‘heavenly beings’ is actually a word more usually translated ‘God’ - Elhoim). - creatures of unique dignity: crowned with glory and honour - creatures of unrivalled responsibility: rulers over the works of your hands