– Alister McGrath
In His Image
The very first chapter in the Bible tells us what image we were created after, as it says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Men and women were created in God’s image. For one thing, they were to have dominion over the earth and subdue it (not abuse it), just like God has dominion over us and all of His creation. We have failed to be good stewards of the earth and have fallen short of living up to this image of God.
A Sense of Justice
I can’t count the times my children have said, “That’s not fair!” And I agree. It’s not that I didn’t teach them about justice. They already knew some things were wrong, even as a young children. I think all of us had to learn that life’s not always fair. The Bible never teaches it will be, but it seems to be in our nature to seek a sense of justice or fairness. When we see injustice, doesn’t that make us mad? Just as God has a sense of justice, we do too. That’s part of the image of God, the difference being we must leave vengeance up to God. We’re not His bounty hunters. God will ensure justice is served in the end (Romans 12:17-19).
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably shown mercy on your child for something they did and didn’t discipline them according to what they deserved. Did you know that’s an attribute of God? God “does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10). When we show mercy, we understand we’ve been shown infinitely more mercy. We could never forgive our brothers and sisters the enormous amount of sins which God has forgiven us. Forgiving others and showing them mercy is giving them what they don’t deserve, just as Christ died for those of us who deserved God’s wrath. But His wrath “passed over” us on account of Christ, and we received mercy. That’s part of the image or likeness of God.
We were made for fellowship. There are about 100 “one another’s” in the New Testament, showing that the church is all about community and fellowship and having all things in common. That’s how the first century church grew so rapidly (Acts 2:42-47). That kind of close, intimate relationship can be even closer than that with their own natural brothers and sisters. In a similar way, the Trinity has always been in perfect fellowship and unity for all time. God wants us to come to a unity in the faith, much like that of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20). Relationship, fellowship, and community can bring unity. Jesus always did exactly that which the Father told Him (John 5:19, 6:38, 8:28, 12:49-50, 12:50, 14:10, etc.), so they had perfect fellowship. Ours fellowship will never be perfect because we’re not perfect. However, when we seek unity in our fellowship, we are imitating an attribute of God.
The best place to start is to admit we’re all fallen creatures. We’re broken. Admitting that we’re broken is the first step toward healing. Grace flows downhill to the lowly, meek, and humble. It never goes uphill. All that should go uphill is praise, thanksgiving, and prayers to glorify God, Who is most worthy. Even a clay vessel or a cracked pot (like me) can display God’s glory in being a light to a dark and dying world.