The story of God’s creation follows a pattern. God forms the earth’s structure, fills it with living things, and then declares his creation good. But as we mentioned previously, something is unique about the creation of human beings. Unlike the animals made on the same day, humans are made in the image of God.
Many people love to keep up with England’s royal family. When Prince William’s son started school, there were pictures all over the Internet. Your mom may have taken a picture on your first day of school, but it is probably not getting the international attention his did. Queen Elizabeth’s image is known throughout her territories, including British currency, which actually gets redesigned whenever there is a new king or queen.
The royal family fascinates the world, because of their status, wealth, history, and authority to reign in England. Each person related to the Queen of England represents her and the country, and each has a title because of their relationship to her (no joke, Prince Philip’s title is over 140 words long).
Our lives look much different from the Queen of England’s. But while we don’t know much about life in the royal family, we do know what it means to be related to someone or even to represent them. And because we were created by the God of the universe, we were made to reflect God to the world around us. We are the crown of creation. Our lives are meant to glorify the one in whose image we are made.
Because we were created in the image of God, we are valuable. Later in Genesis, God links the value of human life to the reality that we are made in his image (9:6). In the moments after all humanity has rebelled against God, he still loves them and works to save them.
“As humans created in the divine image, we are the recipients of God’s love. This means that each of us has special worth in God’s sight. … We are also the recipients of God’s commands, which entails a special responsibility.”
—Stanley Grenz, Theology for the Community of God (177)
Because we were made in the image of God, we have purpose. God gives Adam and Eve a purpose in life to fill the earth and to rule over creation. The image of God is less something we have and more something we are. As his image in the world, humans reflect God to the creation and represent creation before God. He could have named all the animals and “ruled over” all of creation directly, but He entrusted the earth to Adam and Eve. He gave them purposeful work to do, and he gives each of us meaningful work too.
Because we are created in the image of God, we are relational. The trinitarian God created us not because He was lonely, but because he chose to create us and be present with us. We are able to communicate with our Creator. In Genesis, we know that God walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Imagine the discussions they had! Today, we too have access to God to communicate with him. We are made to be in relationship with God and other people. Whether we are more introverted or extroverted, we were all created to be in relationships with the people around us.
We will never understand our identity in life apart from God. Even after sin enters the world, the image of God remains (we’ll get into that more in the next week). Since we are made in his image, we are valuable, purposeful, and relational. And these qualities don’t exhaust all the ways we are are God’s image in the world.
This summer and fall, we are posting sections of our Life Group studies on Identity and Witness (full studies available in links). In the fall of 2019, our Life Groups will focus on the theme of Wisdom.