[Mankind is created in God’s image. Yesterday I wrote a bit about how we have authority on earth — just as God has authority over all creation. Part of the idea of imago dei* is that we, like God, were created to rule. This is often offered as the primary way in which we are made in God’s likeness (because the Genesis text puts the two ideas next to one another).]
I want to offer another way in which we are created in God’s image. And I think it has just as much biblical backing as does this idea of authority and dominion over earth — maybe more.
When we read the first chapter of the book of Genesis, we find a God who is creating. He creates the heavens and the earth, and everything in them. And God works this creation in such a way that there exists a harmonious community. Then God calls his creation good.
I believe God (in the Bible) reveals himself to us in exactly the order he desires. And the very first thing we learn about God is that he is a creator of good things, a designer of community, the grand architect of all the earth.
And we are created in his image.
At the point in which we learn mankind is created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), what we know most about God** is that he creates good things. Mankind is part of his marvelous creation, but even more we are the portion of creation intended to ourselves be creators.
The idea is hinted at in Genesis 1:27-28:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; 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.”
Immediately upon being formed, mankind is told to be fruitful. Man and woman are created — and are then commanded to continue creating. Have you ever wondered why (nearly) all people in all cultures have such a drive to procreate?*** It’s just an assumption that a man and woman will be together and produce children. I believe this is the image of God firmly imprinted on us.
But our role as creators goes so much farther than merely having children. As we become more like God, we create communities which in turn shape other communities. We create lives of obedience to God. We design ministries, and we produce good works. We fashion opportunities to share God’s love with others. We build peace and harmony where they were once were not present. We glorify God by creating kingdom places in a world that is broken. We create in order to restore our world to goodness.****
And our creation is good.
I’d go so far as to argue that this act of creation is the very work from which we are to rest on each Sabbath. Quite possibly creation is the entire point of the Sabbath. It’s not that I set aside one day of each week to serve and worship God. But it’s that I set aside six days of my week to serve him by creating what is good — and one day to relax, look back on it all, and proclaim that it is indeed good.*****
Only in recent history have Christians not been among the greatest of artists. How incredibly sad is that? Consider the stirring of hearts made possible by the magnificent paintings, sculptures, and music created throughout church history. We are by nature artists — just like our God. And we think so little on this idea today. [I will not insert here any complaints about the overall quality of the Christian music industry — but I just barely was able not to….]
How many of us go to work every day, come home, eat, and go to bed — only to do it all again the next day? If you look back on this week (during the coming “Sabbath”), will you be able to call what you’ve accomplished good? Have you managed to do more than pay your bills or get your kids to school on time? Why do we spend whatever free time (and money) we have consuming all we can — whether it be food, internet, movies, technology, or books?
I wish I were more creator, and less consumer. What about you? How does the imago dei play out in your life? What are you creating?