Jul 2 2011 - E100.1b – Genesis 1:26-31, Imaging God
On the sixth day, after creating all the other land animals, God created humankind, male and female, in his own image.
What does it mean that we are created in the image of God?
Firstly it means that we were created for relationship. It is not the man alone who is created in God's image; male and female together are created in the image of God. You cannot image God alone. You can only reflect the image of God in relationship with other people – in the deep and enduring relationships of mutual knowledge and respect. Indeed, we can only reflect the image of God in relationship with God himself; he does not give his glory to any other but delights to display his glory in and through those who live closely with him.
Secondly, we image God as we share in his rule over all creation. The God who brings order out of chaos and whose light dispels the darkness calls upon us to partner him in exercising dominion over all that he has made. Imaging dominion excludes destructive exploitation; it must treat the earth and all its creatures as an entrusted gift, life to be nurtured and enjoyed. Our use of all that is under our dominion is to reflect the creation care of God himself. To do otherwise would be to forsake imaging God in favour of making gods of ourselves.
The German theologian, Gerhard von Rad, expresses this thought as follows: "Just as powerful earthly kings, to indicate their claim to dominion, erect an image of themselves in the provinces of their empire ... so man [sic] is placed upon earth in God's image as God's sovereign emblem. He is really only God's representative, summoned to maintain and enforce God's claim to dominion over the earth. The decisive thing about man's similarity to God, therefore, is his function in the nonhuman world." (Genesis, SCM, 1963, p.58).
As those made in God's image, we are so to conduct the orchestra of creation that it may in every part reflect the glory of the creator – that it too may image God.
Glorious God, help us this day to image you in our relationship with others and with the world you have given us. May your glory be seen in us today.