How Do We Resemble God?
DAY 2 – How Do We Resemble God?
Then God said, “Let us make man in our 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 1:26a-27, ESV
Recently, I have taken up a research project to look in my ancestry. I recently found a photograph of my great grandfather who was born in Illinois in 1884. When I first saw the picture, I said, “he’s a spittin’ image of his son, my grandfather!” In my own family, it’s not uncommon for my son and I to be out and hear “wow, your son is a mini-you", or “wow, he looks just like you”, or, if there’s a trace of southern blood in them, you’ll hear, “he’s a spittin’ image of you, Ryan!”
TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
One of the most famous lines in William Shakespeare’s plays was the opening line of Hamlet: “To be, or not to be...” We’ve heard or used it many times when asking questions. The question we are asking is, how are we like God? Or how are we not like God?
As we look at God’s children, we will see that we share a lot in common. Likewise, there are many things we don’t have in common. To best understand how we are made in God’s image, we will discuss what’s been called the incommunicable attributes and the communicable attributes of God.
These are those things that we don’t share in common and those that we do. For the sake of simplicity, I will look at how we are not like God, and how we are like God. This is the question that arises in evaluating what the Scripture means in the creation account where God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26), or in Genesis 5, “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them.”
HOW WE ARE LIKE GOD
Somehow the word “like” gets overplayed in today’s culture. We use it as a filler word, as demonstrated in this short example of a teenager sharing about his trip to the grocery store. “Seriously, like, the other day I was at the store, and I saw this guy at the door, and he was like, you gotta wear a mask if you are going to come in here, and I said like why? And he said because, and I was like, omg. I guess it’s like because it’s like corona crazy like..!”
The word “like” in the Hebrew means shape, model, or likeness. In a sense, we are modeled and made after God himself. We are not a god, but are designed to be like him. This is why the apostle Paul says that we are to be imitators of Christ, putting in the effort to best reflect God to the world around us. Here are just a few examples of how we share in God’s likeness.
- Morally – we have a sense of what is right and wrong and are able to act in such a way that reveals God’s righteousness. God is the essence of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. While no person is perfect, and all sin, mankind can be kind and loving. In doing so, they are acting like God. Even non-Christians can be loving, peaceful, and kind, and thus reveal the likeness of God in doing these things.
- Spiritually – We share a spiritual connection with God as well. As human beings, we are able to commune with God spiritually. We have a material body and immaterial being as well. As Christians, we will live forever (spiritually) in heaven. Spiritually, we are able to act in God-like activity and display God-like nature in praying and interceding for others. This is something you won’t see other creatures doing. Cats may meow, dogs may bark, but only people pray.
- Mentally – God has given us a mind to use and exercise knowledge. This is a God-like activity that reflects our likeness. It reveals how we are made in God’s image. We, unlike animals or other creatures, are able to use our mental faculties in every field of study: from philosophy to technology, from medicine to scientific research, God has given us a mind to use in ways that have helped form and shape entire countries and civilizations, and devised war strategies and peace plans. No animal is gifted with this level of intelligence. There’s not a book on Amazon written by “Red Rover, Red Rover”; if so, please go ahead send him right over. I’d like his autograph!
HOW WE ARE NOT LIKE GOD
Now that we have seen how we are like God, we now look at how we are not like God. Here are just a few examples.
- We are not omniscient – God is all knowing. We are not. We are limited in our knowledge and understanding. As the scripture says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is. 55:9)
- We are not omnipotent – God is all powerful. We are not. The Apostle John records the multitudes singing, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns.” (Re 19:6) Or, as I once heard a wise old Christian lady explain this truth with simplicity, “Honey, God is so big, you can’t get around him; he’s so tall you can’t get over him. Why? Because he’s God!” Paul writes in the book of Colossians, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:16–17, NKJ)
- We are not omnipresent – God is all present. We can only be in one spot at a time. While time travel has been a hot topic of discussion, God did not create us to be in multiple places at once. From the beginning to the end of our Bible, we see that God is not only omniscient and omnipotent but also omnipresent. He is in the life of every believer (2 Cor. 3:16). He fills the earth and heaven with his presence (Jeremiah 23:23-24). He is inescapable, as the Psalmist David put it: “Where can I go from your presence?” (Psalms 139) He’s uncontainable, having no boundaries (I Kings 8:27). He, however, is not in all things, such as in the theory of Pantheism, which is based on the idea that God is part of the universe and in the plants, the birds the trees, etc. This is not the case with God; we find that he alone is the Creator of heaven and earth, and we are his creation.