Genesis 1: Made in God’s Image
In journalism school, I learned there are 5 basic questions that need to be answered in a story: who, what, when, where & why. Answer those, and you’ve given readers information they can actually use.
There is no more iconic opening of a book ever written than that of Genesis 1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” That is a journalistic dream, ticking off those basic questions not in a 500 word or 5-page article, but in one simple, memorable, timeless sentence:
• Who? God
• What? Created
• When? In the beginning
• Where? The heavens and the earth
But, you may notice one question is not answered… why? Why did God create everything? Reading through Genesis 1, we notice that God did several things: He made a universe, made a planet, prepared that planet and then placed life on that planet. Life was first made in the form of plants, then animals (both water and land animals). But, the climax of all creation is found in verses 26-27, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So, God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Why did God create everything? To make mankind. To make us. We are the point of all creation. Think about that one for a while.
But, that’s not the only “why” that can be asked. Why did God make us? The answer from verse 26 is clear—to bear His image and likeness. That’s a deep concept; what does it mean? On one hand, it suggests to us that God wanted someone similar to Him with whom He could extend fellowship and relation. This is something that could not be acted upon with animals— who, along with all of creation, are for us. We, however, are for God; there is something uniquely and intrinsically suited about us for fellowship with Him. We, like God (and unlike animals) are moral beings.
Others have suggested, however, another idea: just as an image represents the image bearer, so mankind (us!), made in God’s image, has the duty to represent God to the world. Think about that one. We have the duty to represent God’s holiness, justice, mercy and grace and everything else that is God to the world. “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45).
So, which is it? I don’t know, but both are intriguing, possible and necessary for us today. You and I can have an intimate relationship with God, and we have a duty to live in such a way as to positively represent Him in the world.
Let’s apply that to our lives.