As humans, we are created for more than daily living. We were created specially by God for the sake of God’s own pleasure, and with that comes the greatest joy of being found in a specific and close relationship with Him. When sin broke that relationship, Christ was sent to bridge the gap between us and God, taking on our sin and punishment and giving us His righteousness. This work of salvation that Jesus accomplished through His life, death, and resurrection also gives us the new hearts that we need to get back to our created purpose.
With that essential truth being said, I want to zoom in on a specific aspect of that redemption story:
God created man in his own image as a special creature.
We see this in Genesis 2:4–25.
“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground—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. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’
Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.’
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
God chose to make man in a far more intimate way than the rest of creation. Dust and a rib. There is a closeness that God has with this specific creative process. It illustrates that God is doing a special, unique work in the creation of mankind. And God looks on man with favor above the rest of creation. Only once the completeness of creation is done with mankind’s creation does the Lord call hHs work “very good”.
Mankind is also the only part of creation given moral commands. It’s not that God restrained us from the beginning. Instead, God has treated humans as authorities above creation, with the stewardship over creation, and with responsibilities to obey Him. In fact, we have been created as spiritual and physical beings meant to reflect God Himself.
We have been created for the purpose of enjoying God through obedience.
How should we obey? What is the standard? Look to God’s word.
After the fall from perfect union with God, our image bearer status remains unchanged and is part of the reason why mankind longs for a god, though often through idolatry.
Idols make poor gods, but great slave masters. When we submit to the one true God we are made free in Christ.
Our true humanity is found in being remade in and conformed to the image of Christ, the perfect man.
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
“…And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col. 3:10).
We are not meant to remain in our fallen, sinful state. Our only path to being truly human, as our Sovereign Creator defines it, is through Christ. Mankind has this old debate about whether nature or nurture leads us to make the decisions that we make as sinners. God tells us that both are to blame. We are sinners by nature and live in a sinful world that tempts us to follow that sinful nature.
Christ came to live a truly human life, not just in the sense of actually becoming a man, but also in that He lived out true humanity in complete obedience to God. He lived as the truest of humans. And when we pursue after holiness in Christ by denying the short-lived pleasures of this world, we gain true humanity and everlasting joy in glorifying God.
Sin, satan, and the world would have us believe all sorts of lies about being human. Looking a certain way in dress and physicality is what makes you a good human. Condoning sin under the guise of accepting everyone as they are makes you a good human. Our true humanity is found in being remade in and conformed to the image of Christ, the perfect man.
As image bearers, all mankind deserves dignified treatment. This doesn’t mean a condoning of sin, but it does mean that we treat each other well, while confronting sin. It means that all life is sacred from the smallest baby being formed in a mother’s womb to the elderly struggling to live life. It means that we are called to a higher treatment even towards those that we disagree with politically, culturally, and religiously.
And as image bearers, we ought also to be sharing the weight of bearing that image in the gospel. We should not be content watching the world burn in sin around us and fellow image bearers going down with that ship when we have the truth of salvation. A primary application of being an image bearer is sharing the message of salvation in Jesus Christ with other image bearers. This is what we were created to do.