All people are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). But what does that mean and how does it affect our daily lives? If we were created in God’s image, what did the Serpent in the Garden of Eden mean when he said we would be like God?
The statement by the Serpent is an interesting one which simultaneously held elements of both truth and lie. On the one hand, like God, Adam and Eve were made complete – nothing missing. They didn’t know divergence from eternal perfection. Conversely this also meant that Adam and Eve had no concept of the contrast of good and evil because they had never experienced the later. How would someone understand heartache if they had never experienced it? Since God is all knowing, and He had already experienced the rebellion of Lucifer, He had a full understanding of evil.
When the first couple ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Bible tells us that their eyes were open. This was not a miracle as the Serpent seemed to promise, rather it was a consequence of defying God. They experienced the evil of their own act and suddenly became fully aware of the difference. Therefore, while Adam and Eve did indeed become more like God in their understanding of Good and Evil, they also became less like God in that they were no longer perfect – no longer complete.
“In the beginning was the logos… everything that was created was created by Him” (John 1). While Genesis 1 reveals that mankind is made in the image of God, John 1 reveals that we were created through the wisdom and knowledge of God. Being that we were created by a wise and knowing God, it should not be a surprise that, like our Creator, we are instilled with wisdom and knowledge.
Granted, we don’t always convert our knowledge into wisdom the way we should, but this simply illustrates how far we have strayed from God. Despite our weaknesses and even without God’s agreement, we can exercise knowledge. At the Tower of Babel, God essentially noted that if He did not intervene, nothing man planned would be impossible. Because of God’s intervention they didn’t make it to the sky, but a few millennia later, with different motives, man did walk on the moon.
Humanism encourages the idea that we control our own destiny, yet the Bible warns that knowledge without wisdom leads to destructive ends. Gratefully, He has promised to give us wisdom if we will only ask. (James 1:5)
With all the talk about relativism and the lack of absolute truth, one might think that the world is now a free-for-all with everyone doing whatever they want. Fortunately, that is not the case. Even the most atheistic humanist has some kind of moral code.
I still remember the anger and frustration experienced by people when Casey Anthony was found innocent of killing her little girl despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Even though most of these people were completely unfamiliar with the family or anyone involved in the case, they were mesmerized by the trial and infuriated with the verdict. They screamed for justice.
It never ceases to amaze me that some people demand a God who allows everyone to go to Heaven – until you mention Hitler, Stalin, Charles Manson, etc. The problem with this duplicity is, who gets to determine the threshold? If each person is allowed this determination, then it seems that the threshold will probably be somewhere just below the line they are on. See the problem?
This intrinsic moral outrage is another trait inherited by our creator. Something inside us cries out for justice when the defenseless, our loved ones, or we personally are treated wrongly. Though the specific organization of justice may vary across different cultures, it is not created by culture. Even a child knows when they feel that they are being treated unfairly.
While our moral nature is powerful and motivating, there is a force that exceeds it. Love often creates in us a desire to circumnavigate the demands of justice in favor of mercy and grace. Humans can’t get enough of redemption. Stories of the most despicable of people turning from their evil ways and finding mercy at the hands of a judge or God cause us to applaud and celebrate.
Love also moves our hearts toward the weak and vulnerable. Soldiers sign-up to defend the people back home, lifeguards and even bystanders place their own life at risk in an effort to save someone who is drowning. This is entirely counter to the idea of Darwin’s survival of the fittest. In evolutionary terms, why should I care if the vulnerable are destroyed? That means more resources for me.
But the truth is, we do care and we care greatly. So much in fact that we will trade our comfort and even our lives to come to the rescue of others – often even people who don’t deserve it.
Again this is by design, not by accident. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” (John 3:16) Jesus didn’t lay His life aside for a world full of saints, He laid it down for a world of sinners. “For the Son of man came to save that which was lost.” (Matthew 18:11)
In His Image
While there is certainly much that can be added to this brief discussion, it is obvious that we truly are like our Creator in many ways. We are complete when we are in Him. We have the ability to use our knowledge to create and cultivate Creation. We have an intrinsic need to see justice in our personal lives and throughout our world, and we love passionately – even when the objects of our love don’t deserve it.
Are we like God? Absolutely! But to fully operate in that understanding we must be ever mindful of our need to remain in Him. Securely attached to the vine. (John 15)