imago Dei

That humans are created in the image of God is clear from the opening chapter of the Bible. But, what does it mean to be the imago Dei? Obviously not physical appearance. God is not so limited. Augustine followed Plato in asserting that what makes a person human is her capacity for reason. Therefore, to think rationally is to be in God’s image. Others expanded the imago Dei to include capacities such as the capacity for empathy, to love and be loved, to form and maintain relationships, or having a conscience to distinguish right from wrong. In addition to various capacities, the biblical creation stories give humans a calling and a task as part of the imago Dei. 

Our calling is royal. Our task is priestly. We are a kingdom of priests. 

In the ancient neareast, everybody believed that the king, pharaoh, emperor was the image of the gods. Everyone believed that once the high priest ceremoniously blew into the statue/idol of the god in the god’s temple, the idol became an image of that particular god. Everyone believed the gods created humans to be their slaves so the gods could take it easy. Ancient religion was reciprocal – the gods need the food and housing humans give them; humans need the gods to protect them from disasters.

The true and living God needs nothing. The true and living God creates only out of love. 

In Genesis, God creates God’s own temple – it’s a garden; it is nature in its purest form. Then God puts God’s own image in the garden and breathes divine life into them. “And Adam became a living soul.” (The Hebrew word “Adam” means “human;” “Havvah” (Eve) means “life” – together, they are human life.)

Then, God gives the humans calling and a task. 

Their calling: They are royalty. They can hold their heads up. They have dignity, meaning, purpose. None of them are expendable. None are of a lower caste. All are precious. They can come boldly before the throne of grace as accepted children rather than as condemned slaves. They can lament, doubt, and question – God is not offended. They are gifted. They are gifted with grace, love, shalom (wholeness, wellbeing), hesed (unconditional everlasting lovingkindness). Their core identify is beloved. 

They are given a task: Care for the garden, steward creation. Expand the garden. Spread God’s love and grace everywhere to all beings. Use the authority, the power, given by God to serve as Jesus served. Forgive. Refuse to retaliate. Respond nonviolently, lovingly. Be other-oriented. Expand the kingdom of God; conquer evil, defeat injustice by practicing self-sacrificial cruciform love. Be with Jesus to learn from Jesus how to be like Jesus. 

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist, Jesus Freak, Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, spiritual director, life coach, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, writer, husband, father, grandfather, dog-sitter

Posted on May 15, 2020, in anabaptist, apologetics, Bible, Bible Teaching, bodily resurrection, Christianity, creation, Jesus, Kingdom Life, kingdom of God, parables, Peace Shalom Hesed, Poetry, Prayer, Prophecy, Spirituality, The Cross, Worship. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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