IN THE IMAGE OF GOD!!!
Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7
January 25, 2004–11am
On August 9, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon became the first President in United States history to resign the office. Mr. Nixon faced almost certain impeachment for his alleged involvement in the burglary of the Democratic Party’s national campaign headquarters. Although he maintained his innocence, President Nixon’s own recorded words revealed that he had directed a cover-up of his administration’s role in the break-in and had ordered the FBI to stop investigating the episode.
Prior to his resignation two of President’s Nixon’s subordinate aides sat before the Senate’s investigating committee. The one refused to lie and told his story directly to those who were questioning him. He had been urged by his superiors to perjure himself but had not, and would not do so. He was commended by the chairman of the committee for his straightforward honesty.
The other young man, although telling the truth at this particular hearing, admitted that on at least two other occasions he had lied, both to the grand jury and before another senate committee. “Why did you do this?” one of the committee men asked him. He replied that he wanted to be a good team member, referring to the Watergate crew. The crooked team came first. The crooked team was his first loyalty.
Who Am I?
What is man? we must ask, as we process these two illustrations. Is he angel or devil? Saint or sinner? Human or animal? Sir Thomas Browne said that man was “a noble animal.” Aristotle regarded as “a political animal.” Edmund Burke thought of man as “a religious animal.” The operetta composer Sir William Gilbert wrote that man was “nature’s sole mistake”; while Francis Quarles said that “man is heaven’s masterpiece.”
Robinson Jeffers, in his poem “The Inhumanist,” cried out:...Lord God! Exterminate...The race of man. For man only in the world, except for a few kinds of insect, is essential cruel...The human race. Cut it off, scar the stump. This view of man—of you and me—is not very complimentary. In fact, it is depressing and degrading. But is it true? We have done some unspeakably cruel things to both man and animals. But we have also to our credit some tremendous humanitarian efforts that should be included in the picture!
Our Word from the Word of God!
One thing is sure. At the beginning of creation God did not intend for man to be cruel, criminal, and evil. The very fact that we have the word “inhuman,” meaning animalistic in our vocabulary, implies that the act of being human is a ideal state. And we also have the word “humane” which means “civilized,” and “humanitarian,” which suggest kindness and being helpful to others. The very existence and use of these terms is an indication of our potential worth.
The account of creation in the Book of Genesis sets the pattern when it says: “So God created (prepared, formed, fashioned) man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). The answer then to the question, Who Am I? is that I am a person who was made in the image of God.
As we interpret these words concerning our image, we do not think in physical terms. It is not that we look like God, but that we have the potential to act like God. This does not mean that we are perfect little gods, but that each of us has, by creation, an inner spiritual nature and a summons to reflect the character of God.
Human beings are a distinctive creation. We are unlike all other creatures because we were created in the image of God. Scripture never describes any other creature or being as bearing God’s image.
This fact—that we are like God in a unique way—has extremely important implications, among them:
1. That as humans we can have a true knowledge of God—a knowledge that transcends or exceeds mere information about God, to actually knowing and relating to Him as a person. In John 17:3 we are told: “And this is eternal life that they may know (perceive, recognize, become acquainted with and understand) You (God), and [likewise] to know Him, Jesus Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent (Amplified Bible).
2. That as humans we can understand meaning and purpose in light of God’s nature. In Psalm 89:15, David said: “Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are the people who know the joyful sound [who understand and appreciate the spiritual blessings symbolized by the feasts]; they walk, O Lord, in the light and favor of Your countenance” (AB). That is, they have learned to worship in joy and enter into God’s presence and find continuous happiness.
3. We are moral beings with the capacity to do what is right or wrong—right or wrong as defined by God’s own nature and according to His expressed will (see Romans 1:16-17).
4. We are capable of being holy—that is, separated from evil—if we truly know God and obey Him. In 2 Peter 1:2-4 we read: “ Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”