By Martin Morrison
Francis Schaeffer taught us that there are no little people. C. S. Lewis taught us that you have never talked to a mere mortal. Moses tells us that anyone reading this page, “is made in the image of God”. Unbelievable!! You have infinite value!! You will live forever!!
I used to tell my very young daughters when putting them to bed, to imagine all the Barbie dolls in the world, all the ballet shoes in the world, all the diamonds in the world, all the gold in the world, all the chocolate in the world. And then I would say, I love you much, much more than all of those!! Well, Moses tells us when he puts us to bed at night, that one human being is worth more than all of those treasures put together and more! In fact, he tells us that there is no comparison! I wonder how many people, would disagree with Moses, when push comes to shove! A ton of gold or the life of your great uncle who has dementia and is bedridden! What would you choose? Your answer would tell us a great deal about your theology! We are all theologians, some good, some bad!
In our last devotion, we started looking at the teaching of Genesis concerning the nature of man, male and female. “Then God said, Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them”, Genesis 1:26 – 27. There at least five possible meanings in Genesis and in Scripture, as to what it means to be made in the image of God. Last time, we looked at the first meaning, that each and every individual is unique.
Secondly, it means that man is a spiritual being. Man is the only creature that prays, apart from the praying mantis! Through the ages, you will find every people, nation, tribe or culture, praying or worshipping. That is apart from a very tiny over educated elite group of white westerners who are so clever to think that there is no God! The Bible calls them fools! “The fool says in his heart, There is no God”, Psalm 14:1. In Biblical terms, a fool is not only an idiot, but morally deficient!
The reason everyone prays or worships, is because everyone made in the image of God is a spiritual being. Solomon teaches us, “…he has put eternity into the man’s heart”, Ecclesiastes 3:11. Because we are made for two worlds, both earth and heaven, we will never be satisfied with the things of this world. We have an inbuilt yearning for eternity. We have a longing for the divine.
You may well say to me that you are not a Methodist or a Muslim or a Baptist, that in fact you have no interest in any form of organised religion, all of which may well be perfectly true. But eternity is not something you believe, it is something you are.
That longing for eternity will be fleshed out in one of three ways. Either in some form of spirituality, or in a real personal relationship with God, or it will be felt in a deep sense of restlessness or emptiness. Remember in the movie, The Matrix, Morpheus says to Neo, “Let me tell you why you are here. It’s because you know something. What you know you can’t explain but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life. There is something wrong with this world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad”. The reason for the splinter in your mind is found in Genesis 2:7, “…then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature”.
Unlike every other creature, only man has God breathing into him, the breath of life. Only man has a spirit and a soul. Only man is made in the image of God. And when there is no relationship with God or knowledge of God, it will be like a splinter in your mind driving you mad. You will never understand yourself, you will never understand other people, unless you understand that man, is made of both dust and spirit. Both spiritual and physical. You are made for two worlds and will never be happy with only earth.
Thirdly, being made in the image of God, we are not solitary beings but communal beings. The reason being, that God is a communal being. We previously saw, that God is not a solitary divine being. No, God is Trinity. There is one God, made up of three persons. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”, Genesis 1:26. God does not say, let me make man in my image, but rather, let us make man in our image. The divine plural. The Royal plural. It is almost as if there was a divine counsel, discussing the creation of man. What that tells us is that God is communal by nature. The Godhead is made of more than one person.
It is therefore perfectly obvious, that we who are made in the image of God will also be communal by nature. That’s why we get lonely or depressed when we spend long periods of time in isolation, it goes against our inherent nature. That is why there is no greater punishment for a human being, than to be in solitary confinement. It is de-humanising. That’s why we find satisfaction and purpose in relationships, in human intimacy, precisely because we are created to live in some kind of community.
Margery Williams wrote a very short book called The Velveteen Rabbit, which contains this delightful quote. “The Velveteen Rabbit turned to the old wise experienced Skin Horse in the nursery, and asked “What is Real?”. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?” The Skin Horse replied, “Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real”. “Does it hurt”, asked the Rabbit. “Sometimes”, said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “Does it happen all at once, or bit by bit?” “It doesn’t happen all at once”, said the Skin Horse, “You become. It takes a long time…Generally by the time you are Real most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get very shabby…but once you are Real, you cannot become unreal again. It lasts for always”. (Without a doubt, I must have become REAL, as most of my hair has been loved off, my eyes are droopy, and I am certainly rather shabby!).
We become real through relationships of love. That is why, we as Christians, need to work so hard at building and maintaining relationships, at building community. It is precisely because we are made in the image of God.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”, John 15:12.
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”. 1 John 4:10 – 11.