One of the most fundamental statements about the essence of being human is found in the creation account of Genesis. In Genesis 1:27 it says we are Imago Dei, created in God`s image. To understand yourself and others to be created in God`s image has enormous implications for your world view and approach to what is right and wrong. It is one of the most valuable contributions Christianity and Judaism can make to our understanding of what it means to be human.
You can think of us being created in the image of God along four lines. The first is the intellectual approach. Even though human beings have done some pretty dumb things we remain the species that has the greatest rational capacity of all species. We can think longer and deeper. Our imaginations are equal to none on this planet. This implies we should use our heads. Faith will always seek understanding and although thinking we can understand the world and God fully is arrogant, we should never be afraid to think through things we encounter.
Then we can think of us being created in God’s image along structural lines in terms of the work we have to do on earth and the dominion God has given us over the earth. Overwork is a form of idolatry but laziness is also not a virtue. We work hard because we know that God worked hard on creation and Christ worked unceasingly for our salvation. Yes, even when we retire.
Then we can think along relational lines. As God is personal and loving and seeks to live in harmonious loving relationship with himself, nature and humanity, so we should always remind ourselves to nurture care and grow in our relationships with God, others and nature…also in our relationship with ourselves for we are called to love others as we love ourselves.
Lastly, one you might not have heard of before is the eschatological. This is all about hope. God is going somewhere with creation and humanity, somewhere good. God has hope and we as his image bearers should carry that same positivity and hope in us. When we do it gives others hope. Christians were many times in history the people who remained hopeful when others have lost all hope. Hope is always that thing that makes you keep on loving because you know love will never be in vain. In time it will free, heal and redeem you.
You will most likely find yourself gravitating to one of these. You might like one of these so much that you wish you can only be God’s image in that one way and be excused from the others. But the fact of the matter is that you can and should display God’s image in all four of these ways and you should see and value all of these four in other people. We need all for to lead fruitful and full lives. There is got to be some kind of balance as it makes them all work together to enhance life.
Jesus showed us that this could be done. He outsmarted even the clever teachers of the law because he applied his mind. He worked unceasingly for our salvation. He loved fearlessly and he painted a hopeful picture of what is to come, one that inspires us to this day.
Gabriel Snyman, Faith Presbyterian Church, Ft. McMurray, Alberta