Friday, December 30, 2011

CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD

The Scriptural account of man tells us that we have been created in the image of God. The intention of this article is not to give a detailed explanation of the meaning or significance of this but, rather, to encourage the reader to reflect upon the value of man based upon our view of man.

I would like to suggest that the greatest expressed value of man is as he embraces and reflects the character of the God in whose image he has been created. However, whether he expresses this character or not, there is real, intrinsic value in the fact that he has been created in the image of God.

One who has rejected this image and turned from God to other “gods” or idols, is referred to in Scripture as “lost.” Mankind, referred to as “lost”, is still recognized as having been created in the image of God but, as well, having departed from that image. Though lost, man still has great value when acknowledged as a being created in God’s image.

As we depart further, however, we do not simply depart from God’s image but we deny such a God and such an image. An attempt to find man’s place in the universe at this point has represented him as coming into existence in the form of animal. At this point, we have made the value of man even lower than the Biblical idea of lost man. A man who is lost is still a man while viewing man as animal is to remove the uniqueness and value of “manness.”

The devaluation of man has not stopped with viewing him as an animal but has slid deeper into viewing him as an organic machine controlled by deterministic forces above, beyond and before him. We are simply a helpless mechanism with delusions of value.

In response to this and in an attempt to recover from the despair this produces, we cannot simply tell ourselves we have value. We must recover the true nature of our original design, purpose and value and deal honestly, intelligently and maturely with our departure from this reality. There have been many efforts to prop man up with encouraging words of self-esteem, first aside from the church and the gospel and now within the church and the neo-gospel, that will prove to fail and eventually produce even greater despair due to the failure to arrive at the hope promised through such false and deceptive efforts.

Notice the incredible wisdom and insight offered by the apostle Paul when he writes, “This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:17-24, NASB)