How much time and thought do people today sincerely put into understanding this stupendously miraculous, wondrously magnificent, magnanimously amazing, God-breathed thing we call life? It seems like we're so focused on trying to get ahead of everyone else that we fail to even understand why we even do such things in the first place. What is the reasoning of the guy who just cut me (and half a dozen others) off, while weaving dangerously through traffic? Was he.... pregnant and had to get to the hospital? Was he auditioning for the part of 'driver 2' in the next Fast and Furious movie? (Really!! That's the only two logical explanations I can currently thing of!) We were designed to think and rationalize like no other creature here on earth, yet why do we lack the reasoning that would otherwise tell us that getting to the stoplight first doesn't necessarily merit us a gold star in life? The world, especially Western civilization, seems so focused on the self, but do we really even know what 'self' is? Who are we? What is man, really, and why do we constantly try to manipulate things to get our way?
We see in Genesis 1:26-27, God says, “‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over… all the earth…’ God created man in His own image…”
We have been created in the image of an Almighty God, yet we live an existence where man is ruled by paper money and coddled by the opinions of others. If we were created in His image and His creation was “very good,” why are we such a flawed and fragile people? Why did we Fall in the first place?
When “God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” He created something unlike anything He had created prior to that. The human being in Genesis was “the culmination, the climax, the crown of God’s creative activity.” Rather than using the same formal decree from His other creative activities, “Let there be,” God calls man into existence with the personal command, “Let us make.” This gives a sense of a special, more intimate endeavor by God – the conception of “man in [His] image, according to [His] likeness.” And in the same breath, in the same sentence, He says, “let them rule,” to entrust man with dominion over the world. The concept of the image of God ties “into ancient Near Eastern thought. In the ancient world an image was believed in some ways to carry the essence of that which it represented… This does not suggest that the image could do what the deity did or that it looked the same as the deity, [but] rather, the deity’s work was thought to be accomplished through the idol… to establish their authority.”
Genesis 5 provides further insight when Adam “became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image.” The author of Genesis uses parallel language that was used in Genesis 1:26. What it cultivates is the illustration and relationship of a father and child. “The child mirrors the attitudes, expressions, and character traits of his or her father. The Biblical text, by offering us this explanation gives us the key that… we were created with the potential to mirror divine attributes.”
Adam, in a sense, may have been righteous and holy – as an image of God, he may have possessed similar attributes to God, but he was not God, as witnessed from his ill choices. He chose his own will over the Father’s, he chose to be self-righteous rather than truly righteous, and he chose to be god rather than be with God, severing his relational bond with the Father and marring the image of God in himself and in those who would follow him.
As the author of Ecclesiastes confirms God’s creation of man was good, but it is man himself who strays from God. “Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.” Mankind is to be blamed for human failings, for searching for human schemes “rooted in false and self-destructive ‘accountings’ of life and conduct.” We seek our own way, our own truth, and our own life.
From when I was child, I had considered myself a “good Christian”, even though I did not truly understand what that meant. I did not argue with my parents when they told me we celebrated Christmas because Jesus was born, and I did not question them when they told me that Jesus died for us and was reborn at Easter time. I had no reason to not believe them; they loved me and wanted only the best for me. I didn’t really care too much to know why the skinny man with the beard wanted me to behave and who he was exactly – for as long as my parents loved me, the jolly, fat man gave me presents at Christmastime, and the bunny rabbit hid me colorful eggs to find during Easter, I was a happy, well-behaved little boy.
However, as I grew older, the frail veil of innocence began to wear thin. I started to see how others bended and broke the rules and mistreated and misused their fellow man to get what they wanted. And yet, I saw how these ‘others’ seemingly remained happy, whilst my family struggled and was constantly being stepped on. I was no longer that happy little boy who didn’t whine or complain. I became frustrated and depressed, and I started asking “why?”
It only when I started to recognize the rationale and compassion of that skinny man with the beard that my “why’s” began to be resolved. He had the heart and understanding that could fix my dismal view of the world. He knew how to live. For He is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and is the perfect image of God – and thus the perfect model for man. Man is illuminated in God’s image by Jesus Christ as John states, “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” He is as Adam was before the Fall – the unblemished image of God. However, where Adam failed, Jesus Christ did not. He may have had His own will here on earth, but His will was aligned with the Father’s.
Being made in the image of God, but not being God, means man needs God in order to prosper, let alone, function properly. “If the human being is defined fundamentally as one ‘in the image of God,’ then his identity must be sought in relation to God. For it [is] only reasonable that the identity of an ‘image’ is found by knowing the original.” If mankind is to ever understand who we are, we need to stop chasing the American Dream, reset our definitions of this world, and seek our identity in Christ Jesus.
What we also see is the value and significance of each and every human life. “Every single human being, no matter how much the image of God is marred by sin, or illness, or weakness, or age, or any other disability, still has the status of being in God’s image and therefore must be treated with the dignity and respect that is due to God’s image-bearer.” “It is that we remember not to consider men’s evil intention but to look upon the image of God in them, which cancels and effaces their transgressions, and with its beauty and dignity allures us to love and embrace them.”
As we look at others with love and at Christ for our identity, it is important for us to remember that we our God’s beloved as well and that value is inside of us as well. “It would be good for us to reflect on our likeness to God more often. It will probably amaze us to realize that when the Creator of the universe wanted to create something ‘in his image,’ something more like himself than all the rest of creation, he made us! This realization will give us a profound sense of dignity and significance as we reflect on the excellence of all the rest of God’s creation… We are the culmination of God’s infinitely wise and skillful work of creation. Even though sin has greatly marred that likeness, we nonetheless now reflect much of it, and shall even more as we grow in likeness to Christ.”
 Genesis 2:7, NASB.
 Ronald Youngblood, The Book of Genesis (Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1991), 30.
 Paul Wright, Genesis (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1997), 14.
 Genesis 1:26, NASB.
 Genesis 1:26, NASB.
 John H. Walton, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 130.
 Genesis 5:3, NASB.
 Walton, 131.
 Ecclesiastes 7:29, NASB.
 William P. Brown, Interpretation: Ecclesiastes (Louisville: John Knox Press, 2000), 84.
 John 14:6, NASB.
 John 1:9, NASB.
 Moreland, 30.
 Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 192.
 John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 3.7.6.
 Grudem, 192.