God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God
Very Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; 19 July 2015; What Does It Mean To Us That We Are Created In the Image of God?
17 July 2015Posted by on
Scriptures for Sunday: Genesis 1:26-31; Philippians 2:1-5; 4:4-9
You can read these Scriptures here: NIV and ESV
Hymns for Sunday
UMH 151 – God Created Heaven and Earth
(Use melody 355)
UMH 111 – How Can We Name a Love (verse 3)
UMH 144 – This is My Father’s World
Last week we looked at what it means that we live in a Fallen World. We live in a fallen world because evil and suffering were released and unleashed into the world that God created and declared “GOOD” for us. That evil and suffering was released when Adam and Eve could not resist temptation and made a decision to disobey God. Ever since evil and suffering were released and unleashed into our world, we are prone to suffering and disease and sometimes end-up in pain and in the hospital. It is because of that act of disobedience we live in a world where there is homelessness and hunger, floods threaten our lives and destroy our crops, droughts make lands uninhabitable, and tornadoes, earthquakes, ethnic violence and wars destroy lives and civilizations. Much more trivial, but also related to the fallen world is that our tires go flat, socks are lost, toast is burned, angry words are exchanged, roofs leak, and most of us are having problems with weight gain. I am not trivializing evil and suffering; I am not putting leaky roofs and burned toast on the same level as earthquakes, ethnic violence and wars. The point I am making is that paradise was lost and with that irritations, problems and tragedies became common in our lives.
Living in the fallen world we have tendencies to disregard and overlook God’s presence in our day-to-day lives. Not seeing God as an active presence in our lives makes it so much easier to succumb to evil and temptations.
Our hope, the Good News of our faith and relationship with God, is that although we live in a fallen world we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 5:1-3; Genesis 9:6; Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:13-15; 2 Corinthians 4:4-7 here is the link to these readings). Today I want to explore what it means that we are created in the Image of God.
When we talk about humankind being created in the image of God, many of us jump towards the “gender” of God. “Gender” is concrete and is easy to wrap our minds around. Similarly, when we talk about the first human beings created we point out that they did not have belly buttons. It is difficult for most of us to deal with abstract concepts and constructs. That is why we tend to “break” things down into bits and pieces so that we are able to wrap our brains around them. Ideas are easier to understand when we can connect them to concepts that are already familiar to us, but sometimes this leads to misconceptions. So today let’s talk about what it truly means to be created in the image of God.
When Jesus met the Samaritan Woman at the well he revealed that “God is Spirit” (John 4:24). Having been created in the image of God means that we have been created as spiritual beings. Adam and Eve did not resemble God in the sense of God’s having flesh and blood; God created us male and female because that is how we multiply and perpetuate God’s image in the world.
All of us are created as rational human beings with the ability to think, to make decisions and to appreciate beauty. All of us can reason and all of us can make choices. This is a reflection of God’s intellect and freedom in us.
When was the last time you had an “A-HA!” moment? When was the last time that you discovered something new? When was the last time that you worked in a garden or tended a tree? When was the last time you wrote a letter or a note to a friend, a poem, a novel? When was the last time that you painted a picture or took a photograph? When was the last time you sang a song or played an instrument? When was the last name you chose a name for a child or a pet? When we do that, we reflect God’s intellect, freedom and creativity in us.
When we are born, we are born in perfect innocence; newborns have no idea that they are naked nor do they care. That is a reflection of God’s holiness. God saw all He had made (mankind included) and called it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). As we grow and mature we develop and build our “moral compass”; we learn and we decide for ourselves what is right, true and beautiful. That is a reflection of God’s holiness in us.
When was the last time that you made a decision to be a “bigger person?” When was the last time that you made a conscious choice to separate yourself from something that you know is bad or bad for you? When was the last time that you praised someone and rejoiced in someone else’s accomplishments? When was the last time that you felt bad for something that you have done but should not? All those are reflections of God’s holiness in us.
Human beings are created to live in a society. That is a reflection of our God being a triune God: Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. When we were created and before the fall, the primary relationship that humans enjoyed was with God (Genesis 3:8); God made the first woman because “it is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18) and so that we could build a community. That is a reflection of God’s triune nature in us.
When was the last time that you celebrated each other’s accomplishments and milestones? When was the last time you made a friend or hugged a friend? When was the last time we gathered together for and event or a covered dish dinner? Every time that we do that and every time that we gather together on Sunday, we celebrate the fact that our God is with us and in us and within us. We celebrate that we are made to be a community just like our God who created the whole universe.
Isaiah 41:10 (NIV2010)
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
All of humanity (which includes every one of us) occupies a special place in God’s heart and within God’s creation. Because we are created in the image of God, every person has the ability to understand abstract concepts, exercise freedom of will, has the ability and capacity to love, exercise mercy and justice and to seek a relationship with our Creator. Every human being also possesses an immortal soul that temporarily connects our mortal bodies with our immortal God as we travel on the road of life towards perfection.
The Good News is that God understands us and God made a choice to sacrifice God-self in the person of Jesus being crucified and resurrected. (God is a spirit (John 4:24), that is why Jesus had to take the human form so that God could be crucified). In that selfless act all of God’s creation, including humankind, was redeemed. When we make a choice to accept God’s gift of redemption, the Holy Spirit begins a life-long process of molding and shaping us into a new creation (Ephesians 4:17-32).
Philippians 2:1-5; 4:4-9 NIV2010
2 1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.