Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image,
in our likeness . . .”
So God created mankind in His own image,
in the image of God He created them;
male and female He created them.
(Genesis 1:26-27, NIV)
God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image,
make them reflecting our nature . . .”
God created human beings;
He created them Godlike, reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.”
(Genesis 1:26-27, The Message)
For years I have stated that God has a sense of humor because God created me . . . and, Chicago Cub fans. The scriptures tell us that God created humankind in the image of God . . . pretty much in all versions of the Bible that we Christians hold so close and dearly to our hearts . . . it is the “truth”. We are all created in the image of God . . . male and female . . . all of us. We are all “ol’ chips off the block” in our likeness of God . . . the Bible tells us so. AND! And, like all the other days of the Creation story, it was good . . . meaning God was pleased with what God had created. Looking in the mirror . . . well, I have to smile because if I represent the image of God . . . God has a great sense of humor! I am kind of goofy looking!
Now, I am not a biblical literalist. I also know that this statement of creation . . . of humankind being made in the image of God . . . can be taken literally, yet at the same time (through the invention and practice what literalists would call “liberal theology”) it can also be taken metaphorically. I guess that is probably why I used two translations at the start of this blog . . . one kind of takes it literally while the other implies the metaphorical . . . you decide which one you like for yourself. The point is, whether it is taken literally or metaphorically, the writers want us to understand that we are created in one of the literal likenesses of God or that we are a reflection of the likeness of God. I am sure that there is at least one blog somewhere in the confusing statement . . . and, I am sure that there have been literally thousands of theological theses written on the topic throughout the history of humanity. Whichever camp you fall into doesn’t really matter, what matters is the implications of idea . . . created in the image of God.
That makes all of us “holy” . . . all of us. If this is the case, well then, what does this say about how we view and approach the “holy”? What does this say about how we value and treat others who are also created in the image of God, thus considered “holy”, in our lives? What does this say about what we consider to be beauty as individuals, communities, and societies? If we are all created in the image of God . . . or as a reflection of God . . . as being “holy” . . . we ought to be thinking about these implications and questions. Also, it raises some other thoughts and questions: How do we approach God and/or the “holy” in our lives? How do we approach one another?
When I have actually paused long enough in my own life to consider and discern what the implications of being created in the image of God means . . . I am ashamed of myself. Ashamed because I have failed miserably in doing what this passage implies. I have not always treated the “holy” that has been in my presence with much reverence or awe . . . shoot, not even respect.
For example, my commute to the big city to work at the university . . . a 45 minute commute with every other person in the world who has to make the same commute . . . to and from . . . five days a week. Everyone is attempting to get from here to there safely and in one piece. For the most part it can be frustrating experience as there are levels of expertise and ability behind the wheel of every vehicle on the road. Some drivers are crazy and maniacal in their abilities to drive and often put others at risk as they do things that even the most grizzled NASCAR driver wouldn’t attempt to do at the Daytona 500. Some drivers are overly cautious and put everyone else at risk as they putt along the highway gazing off at the distant mountains, daydreaming of that next ski trip or hike. Whatever the case, each of those drivers are represented as human beings. Human beings are created in the image of God . . . hence they are “holy”. Often my approach and attitude to these “holy” individuals . . . these “chips off the ol’ block” . . . is far from being reverent, respectful or even being in awe . . . “awful” yes, but not awe. It is not a “holy” sign I am flashing. Is this the way I would treat God if it were God behind the wheel?
I guess that would depend on whether or not God was that terrible of a driver! But, no. Therein lies the kicker . . . if I would not treat God that way, why would I treat the image of God that is reflected through another in that manner.
See what I mean. Looking around at the world and the way that we as individuals, communities, and societies treat one another . . . we have a long, long way to go before we live up to what this brief passage of scripture is telling us. God loves us all . . . so, why can’t we love one another? We are created in the image of God . . . and God said that it was good . . . don’t we trust God? Can’t we learn to laugh and love with God and one another? Apparently God thinks that it is pretty funny . . . after all, God created me.