ITB: Imago Dei
Resource: Lead Pastor Justin Dosch
Topic: What it means to be made in His Image
I just get so fired up and excited every single week that I get to preach the word of God and to share what God has been teaching me. As I was just listening to that song “Peace Be Still” I was thinking about how many people there are in this life that truly don’t have peace. We so often sing that song, wanting the words to be true, but there are some days when they aren’t true. But in our humanness we recognize that’s not always the case.
There was this guy, he's probably passed away now for at least 15 years, named Heath Ledger. His most famous role was when he played the Joker in The Dark Knight, in the Batman series. I remember when he died there was a whole big thing about how he had gotten so engrossed into his character as the Joker and just the depth of it. If you've ever seen that movie before, he has to embrace this evil that was inside of that character and he did so to the point where people talked about how he actually lost his identity. He was lost in the midst of playing that character and almost became the Joker and that's tragic in so many ways. Yet it's a reminder to me as I think back on that and think about where we're headed today that many people on this planet are not really a whole lot different. I believe there is a true identity crisis that is going on within our world. It's going on not just in the secular world, but I think it's going on in the Christian world too. It’s devastating. Even amongst Christians we don't understand who we truly are and where our identity lies.
The truth is not knowing who we really are causes major dysfunction in our lives. Science tells us we descended from apes by chance. If we believe that we just descended from an amoeba, that eventually became apes and then eventually became human beings, then this is the truth: there's no real meaning or hope for your life, there's no future for you because once this is all over, the life that you lived or whatever you spent your time doing, it all fades away into nothing. There’s no purpose.
Even if you find meaning in SOMETHING, you’ll eventually have to face the reality that in the end that pursuit was meaningless. And we’re left to try and find it in counterfeits; jobs, relationships, money, success etc.
As we come to the creation of man in Genesis 1-2, what we find is so much more than the origin story of man, it is a description of WHO we are and what it looks like to flourish as a human being.
As we begin, I want to make this statement, I love you guys, I really do. Every single week when I'm preparing these messages, you are on my mind, you are on my thoughts, I want you to know that, not in some weird creepy way, but I'm thinking about your souls. I'm thinking about whether you're thriving or not in your relationship with Jesus or whether or not your relationship with God exists at all. What we're going to talk about today, I cannot stress this enough, is so unbelievably important to you genuinely thriving in this life and knowing who you are. I want to see you live your life to the fullest. I don't want to see you miss out on even one little part of God's perfect, amazing plan for your life. And yet I know this, I see this every day, so many people are missing out and it’s hard to watch.
What we're going to talk about today picks up where we left off last week. I encourage you to go to Genesis 1 or read the recaps HERE. We're going to begin in verse 26. Picking up after God has created this unbelievable paradise for us to live in. Ultimately everything he's created up until this point is leading to the central focus of his creation, and that’s you. Let's read this together:
"Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day." - Genesis 1:26-31
What does this teach us about who we are?
First, man was specially created “above” everything else;
7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7
First, God breathed life (spirit) into him, this is what makes us special. We are marked by the signature of the divine! No matter what you might think about yourself, you are valuable, because God’s signature is on you, like the most valuable paintings in the world. He has put his signature on you and it says, GOD.
There is a much more “hands on” and personal approach than he used with his creation.
There is a significant change in the creation process that occurs at this point; instead of “Let there be,” the Lord says, “Let US make man in OUR image.”
This is the first glimpse of the Trinity; The Father is overseeing the work of creation, the son is there helping (see John 1:1), and the Spirit is hovering over the unformed earth (see Genesis 1:2)
Second, we are Image bearers;
This latin word, imago dei means in the image of God. We have been created in the image of God to bear, not just his image, but to actually reflect his image.
Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness. Gen 1:26
The Hebrew word here used for image is the word tselem, which means carved, paints a picture of us being sculpted out of clay or carved out of wood. He created us through the process of tselem as replicas of who He is.
Let that sink in for a minute. This perfect, holy, righteous, good, eternal God created us in HIS image. How amazing and incredible is that, when you really get down to it, knowing that was his purpose. To make us LIKE him.
That likeness is primarily spiritual and is what sets us apart from the rest of creation. Things like;
Understanding Right from wrong; wisdom, goodness, truth, mercy, freedom to choose
Our Minds; ability to understand the abstract, be creative, solve problems, think critically
Our Emotions; the ability to feel love, joy, sorrow, anger, empathy
Most of all “personhood” > created for relationship
He has created us with the ability to have relationships. True, real, deep relationships in a way that nothing else on this planet can compare to and fully understand. We are made in His Image and we already talked about this. Check this out… God is a god of relationships and has been and always will be; father, son, and Holy Spirit. There is a divine relationship there and he created us to have a relationship with him and to be able to have a relationship with others. This is the primary reason that he created us. To be in a relationship with him and to be in a relationship with each others. It is the reason that as I look around the world that we are living in today, so many people just seem so lost and broken and just so unfulfilled, it’s because their relationship with God, first of all, is non-existent or broken. Or their relationship with other people is broken and fractured. I think about the last couple of years and all of the seclusion and isolation that humanity has had to go through. It's not healthy for us. There's a reason that depression and anxiety and fear and and all of these things are way up over the last few years, because we've gotten isolated from the relationship God designed us to be in. There's a reason that since the advent of the cell phone and the internet and computers, as people just stare at their devices all day, are not having real relationships with people, and society is way worse off. Why? Because again, we were created for relationships. We are spiritual beings and it’s why I believe God cares so much about our spiritual health. I believe God cares about our bodies but I believe that almost everything God does is to work on our spirit. We talk about the fruits of the spirit that God wants to emanate from our life: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those are the things that God cares about. We are spiritual beings first and physical beings second, and this is what it means to be made in the image of God, built for connection.
Third, we are blessed by our maker;
More than bearers of his image, I believe what this first passage in Genesis is talking about is we are blessed by our maker. Truly blessed beyond anything else in creation. This is what verse 28 says “God blessed them and said to them be fruitful and increase in number fill the Earth and subdue it.” When God says that he blessed them and wanted them to be fruitful, these aren’t just words. That word blessed gets tossed around a lot in our culture. But this is more than lip service to us. When God says that he wants us to be fruitful, he is saying that he wants us to be prosperous. When he created man and woman, Adam and Eve, in the beginning, there was this desire for man to enjoy life. To have joy inside of us knowing we are created by the God. He created this amazing Garden for them, to live in and be prosperous. It was truly amazing. While we will never be able to fully experience God’s blessings in this life the same way they did, due to the fall and sin entering into the world, make no mistake…we have a God who desires to give good gifts to his children. Who wants us to experience true blessings from him. He loves and cares for us so deeply and wants nothing more than to see us thrive. Just like parents wanting to see the best for their children, God wants that for us..
The biggest tragedy when we don’t understand this and live in that knowledge is we quickly lose faith when we don’t “feel” blessed. Satan works overtime to get you to believe this. “You’re not blessed. God doesn’t care about you. Look at all the things God hasn’t done for you,” he says. When we look at how God HAS blessed us it changes our whole perspective.
Fourth, we are rulers over creation;
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea…”Genesis 1:26
What a HUGE responsibility and honor. God gave US the keys to the earth and made us stewards over it. He didn’t do this for any other creature. We are made in God’s image, so it only makes sense that we are given some of our creator’s responsibility.
Ruling over doesn’t just mean in a domineering way. Ruling over means caring for the earth. We are created in his image, to reflect his image. We are blessed by him, our maker, and then he says we are rulers over creation. Now it’s probably easy to read this and feel a little powerful. Like “I’m a human being, the world is my playground! I can do with it what I want!” But that is not how it works. God gave us rule over the Earth, gave us Dominion, but there is a keyword and it is “Steward”. A good steward looks after something, cares for it, loves and pours himself into it. At the end of the day, what an amazing gift that is.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:15
Cared for the garden and lovingly tended to it. And it wouldn’t have been hard. It wouldn’t have been like taking care of our gardens today. It would have been truly enjoyable; the perfect temperature, sweatless, WEED FREE and sin-free!
Adam even got naming rights
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. Genesis 2:19
Like God the creator, man was given a creative mind and authority to name the animals and would have found great joy in naming the creatures and interacting with them.
Finally, we are designed to worship;
We exist to glorify God and enjoy Him forever
We were designed for worship. Write that down if you have your journal out. WE WERE DESIGNED FOR WORSHIP. Above everything else, you are a worshiper. You were designed for worship and the truth today is you are either worshiping the God of the universe, he’s on the throne, number one… or you are worshiping yourself or other things. This right here is one of the primary roots as to why there is so much dissatisfaction and lack of joy, purpose and fulfillment in our world; people are not living our their purpose. Our purpose is to worship God, there is an age-old statement that goes like this, I love this…”we exist to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” That’s our sole purpose! I would argue one of Satan's greatest lies is to get us to believe that if we will glorify/worship ourselves that is what will bring the most satisfaction. He wants us to believe if we bring glory to ourselves, worship other things and put ourselves first, then that will bring you the most satisfaction. Let me ask… how's that working in our world? It's not working for me and I don't think it's working for anybody. Why? Because we were designed for worshiping God and God alone.
Listen to what Revelation 4:11 says; “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” We were created to worship, man was given dominion over the whole earth. Revelation 4:11
Worship begins with believing he’s worthy of being worshiped; because we were lovingly made in his image, blessed, and given authority. Worship of our creator is the ONLY thing that will ever bring true fulfillment.
So, you may be wondering, what is worship? Well the simple answer is obedience! Loving obedience out of a heart of gratitude is the highest form of worship. Obedience is following the great commandment to love God and love others. This is why you’re alive! To worship Him and enjoy Him! And if you’re not worshiping, it’s why you don’t FEEL alive! When we are obedient to him, we are following what he has called us to do and living the way he’s called us to live. There is a joy and a satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from that and when we break from that, when we do things our own way, it’s dysfunctional and devastating to our lives. We are ALIVE to worship God and that’s why we were created. Until we begin to do that, our life will feel meaningless and empty. We will have no purpose because we don’t get to decide what our purpose is. The Creator already did that. So here’s one last reminder: you are here to worship God.
Our identity is that we are created in God’s image to glorify him and enjoy him forever
And there’s an amazing freedom that comes with that. When we know who we are it sets us free from the constant need to find our worth in things that will fail us and lead to misery. For instance;
A husband may find their worth in the way their wife treats them. A mother from how her children behave or treat her. A young man from the praise he receives from his boss. Or even a pastor from the praise of his people about his sermons. But what happens when that husband doesn’t get the treatment he wants? What happens when that mother’s children act out and disrespect her? When the young man gets demoted? Or when that pastor stops hearing praise? The answer? A never ending cycle of feeling worthless. This is the danger of not knowing your purpose! And, even if those things give you purpose in this life, they are ultimately “purposeless purpose,” because one day this world is going to pass away and the only thing left will be our relationship with God and his people.
The sad truth is we gave up our true identity in the Garden of Eden when we decided to glorify ourselves and believed we could find joy in anything other than worshipful obedience to God. As a result, we became disconnected from God and his purpose, from his blessing, separated from the eternal life he breathed into us. But there is AMAZING new today! Jesus died to give us our identity and blessing back!
As God breathed life into man so Christ breathes new life into us!
As God gave man purpose, so Christ gives us new purpose in Him!
As God gave man the paradise of Eden, in Christ we receive a new Eden called heaven where we will dwell for all eternity with Him!
What are we going to do about this? Start worshiping Him with everything we’ve got!
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1
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