Imago Dei

Read Genesis Chapter 1

In the beginning God created everything. I’m going to be bold enough to say that it’s not hugely important how God went about creating everything – but the important thing is, that before he had the idea and began creating – there was nothing – no time, no space, no matter, no life as we know it – nothing.

And then God, as the most skilled artist the universe has ever seen, created the ultimate work of art the universe has ever known. After all his meticulous planning, designing and fashioning – he breathed life into all of it – And Genesis tells us,God looked over it all and said it was “very good” – like any satisfied artists would.

If God said it was very good – then you can bet that’s about the biggest understatement of all time. God doesn’t go throwing around words like good or very good like we throw around words like awesome or unbelievable. Very good meant very good on God’s infinite scale of things. Lets just say it’s very high praise. And if God said it was very good, then it’s pretty fair to assume that we should think it’s pretty darn good as well.

Sometimes people seem to talk a bit like physical stuff is bad all the time – that if we could only escape this physical world and be more spiritual then we’d somehow unlock the key to happiness – but that flies in the face of God, since he said that everything he created was very good. God doesn’t make rubbish – everything that god created, he created to be good. Food, drink, smell, taste, sex it’s all good – when we embrace it in the way God intended, it’s very good.

This all isn’t to forget that the way things are now, aren’t different from how God created and intended them to be in the first place –but you only have to go for a bush walk, or feel the sun on your face or have a glass of water to know that God’s creation still sings out with that same Very Goodness that God was talking about in Genesis.

And amongst all of God’s creating, us humans had something very privileged happen to us. We were made in the image of God. The ancient church had a latin name for this – which was Imago Dei.

But what does it mean to me made in the image of god? I mean, none of us feel like Gods. Or look like Gods. And most of us definitely don’t act like Gods. We don’t seem very infinite and when can’t teleport ourselves to Paris on a whim because we want a croissant.

Or does it mean that God looks like us physically? With two arms, and a nose, and a pancreas, and he goes to the toilet. Maybe he’s really big – say 5 stories high and weighing in at around 90 tonne – but he’s got all the same bits as us….just… God-Sized.

What Imago Dei does mean is that the image of God lives inside of us – like the divine imprint of God. That’s the reason we say the word “ought” sometimes. Like “people “ought” to be living in peace rather than fighting wars all the time”, and “people ‘ought’ not be killing babies with blow torches just for fun”. That’s the image of God inside of us telling us how things were created to be. You know when we have those moments when against our better judgement we do things that are right – that’s the image of God in us shining through.

This image of God means that like God we have the free will to choose what we’re going to do. We aren’t just creatures of instinct, doing things out of natural urges. We are creatures of God, who instinctively know the difference between right and wrong – and we have the power to choose to go against that feeling or to go with it.

This image of God means we have the privilege of truly knowing God – we can relate to him personally because we have a bit of his image in side of us.

This image of God inside of us means that we desire and can find meaning and purpose in life because of God’s nature within us. Why are people constantly in search of the meaning of life? Why don’t they just ignore it and get on with life – like a budgey or a cow does. As someone who grew up on a farm, I can tell you that sheep aren’t asking a lot of questions about existence and meaning and “why am I here on earth?”. It’s not because they’re a bung piece of Gods creation – we could actually learn a lot from sheep – but it’s because sheep aren’t made in the image of god. But we are. That’s why everyone keeps asking these questions about meaning – because we have to – because we’re made in the image of God. We’re programmed to search for meaning…because there is meaning.

CS Lewis once put it like this – we get hungry, therefore bread must exist. We hunger for meaning and God – therefore meaning and God exist.

Yes, to be frank, us human beings are pretty shitty sometimes. But we were also hand made by God. He crafted us out of his own hands. He poured his energy into us. He breathed life into us. He created us in his image. And he looked at us and said we were very good.

Click on the image below. Written on the card are a handful of the attributes of God which can be seen in all humans – Christian or Not. Choose a few of these qualities and share with each other people who you’ve seen examples of this in. The image of God is present in everyone…learn to recognise it in your everyday life.

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