Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV): Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Man is NOT merely an advanced animal. Despite the fact that people were formed from the earth using the same materials as other living creatures, using the same proteins and many of the same or similar structures, there are many profound differences between man and beast that can only be explained by the fact that God created us special from the beginning.
To begin with, people were created in the image of God Himself, created like God in many ways:
- We can be creative to a degree that no other creature can approach. We can imagine things from skyscrapers to cars, to supercomputers, to rockets and telescopes that explore the depths of space, and then we can make them into realities.
- We can be compassionate to the point of self-sacrifice. We can see the needs of those in trouble, and can choose to make sacrifices to meet those needs, even when the people in need aren’t friends or family members. Even when they are our enemies!
- We are aware of our own existence in ways that animals are not. We can ponder our own immortality, and what lies beyond this life, and make decisions that affect our eternal destiny.
- We are immortal, created to live forever from the moment we are conceived. This also means that the real core of who each of us is, is spiritual. The secret to all of our amazing capabilities is our eternal spirit that is at the very core of every man, woman, and child. The spirit drive us, and makes each of us a unique creation, known personally to God.
We were also given authority over the earth and all that is in it. We were specially created to be God’s viceroys, exercising His authority over the whole created order on His behalf. We were not given authority to be despots, to rule without regard to the good of the earth and of the living things with which we share it, but to rule in God’s name, doing what He would do to maintain order and enhance life.
In all of these ways, and many more, mankind is very special; unique among all of the creatures of the world. Of course, as is very evident to anyone who looks around, it is possible for people to allow sinful attitudes and actions to so corrupt the divine nature that God created in us that we can actually make ourselves into little more than animals. We can choose that path, putting ourselves and our desires above everything else; exercising authority by brute strength and intimidation instead of by love and wisdom; using violence, and treachery, and thievery to get what we want and to build ourselves up. All of these are so contrary to who we were created to be, running counter to all of the great potential that lies at the heart of each and every person.
But when we live our lives in full submission to God and to His will, we can become a masterpiece of His creative (and re-creative) power, showing forth His love, His grace, and even His power to the whole world; reaching for an attaining the loftiest of goals; and living forever in His presence.
Father, looking around it is easy to see both ends of the spectrum: those who show forth the best of what You created us to be, and those who have debased themselves and have become little more than mere animals. Thank You for Your transforming power that can draw even the darkest soul back into Your light; remaking, reshaping, recreating us back into Your very image; restoring all that was broken; and reestablishing us on the road to eternal life. Amen.