Act 1 Scene 1b: Imago Dei

Imago Dei by Shin-Hee Chin

You know those times when you prepare the best you can but when the rubber hits the road things seem to go sideways?

Well, Sunday seemed a bit like that to me…it seemed, as one of my mentors is fold of saying, that the words I was speaking drooled down my chin and flopped to the ground.  😕

In hindsight (I listened to the recording yesterday), it wasn’t quite that bad – even though there a few rabbit trails, the main message that God wanted communicated got across (All glory to the King!).

Below is the full text of the sermon – with the audio file located here.

Note that Emily blessed everyone Sunday with a speical solo performance of JJ Heller’s song “What Love Really Means.” In fact, I think the Lord used that song to touch more hearts that day then anything I said. It just goes to show you that folks connect more with music then with lectures… hmm… maybe those chating monks of old knew a thing or two….

Blessings.

Made in the Image of God

Last week we looked at how the creation story of Genesis 1 was primarily about answering the question of WHO made the world. We looked at how it told the Israelites, who were just delivered from 400 years of slavery, that God Alone was King of everything.

God was the ruler of the seas, the plants, the trees, then animals – everything was subject to Him. The gods of the Egyptians and the Canaanites were nothing – just false idols with no power. God made everything and therefore He was King.

We also looked at the creation of humanity – how humanity was not created by accident – the tears of a crying god falling on the ground – nor were we created as slaves to do the biding of the gods.

Contrary to every other creation story out there, God’s story states that humanity was made in His image:

“God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” –Gen 1:27

Wow – powerful statement… one that I would like to dive into today as it affects how we see ourselves, others and God.

Specifically I would like to look into how being made in the image of God changes the way we view ourselves, the way we view others, and the way we view our relationship with God.

The way we view ourselves

In ancient times, the rulers and kings would claim a special relationship with the gods in an effort to justify their control. The Pharaohs of Egypt – from where the Israelites just left – claimed to be “the living image of Amun” – who we saw last week was the god whom the Egyptians thought created everything.

Similarly, we find the following salutations within the writings of the Canaanites and ancient Mesopotamia:

  • “The father of my lord the king is the very image of Bel and the king, my lord, is the very image of Bel”
  • “O king of the inhabited world, you are the image of Marduk.”

The difference with the Genesis story is that it is not the king or the ruler who is made in the image of God – everyone is made in God’s image – as St. Paul says in Romans 8:

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” – Romans 8:16-17

We are not to look upon ourselves are less than – we are not to put ourselves down – we have been made in the image of God!! We have been made in the image of the one who created the Heavens and Earth – we are joint heirs with Christ!!

This should make you jump out of your seats!

We are not bound by the lies of the evil one – we are not bound by the lies of our culture who says that you are nothing if you don’t have money, power, or if you don’t look a certain way or act a certain way.

These were the same lies the people of Israel were facing – they were slaves for 400 years – they had been broken by their overlords. Yet God wanted to remind them that they were not slaves to be tossed out – slaves to be hurt and destroyed on a whim – they were His children – they were equals with Pharaoh!!!!

Allow this to sink in – allow this trthe to purge the lies out of your heart – out of your mind. Hang on to it – live it – take it – write it on your heart. Keep it close as you walk through this life.

And guess what? It only gets better!!!

You see, in ancient times when a king conquered a town or a piece of property, he would set up an image of himself to remind all who saw it who was king.  This statue would tell everyone who walked into that place that so-and-so was the ruler of the place…

In the same way, humanity was created as a reminder to the world that God rules over all creation. Humanity was to be a living symbol of the rule and reign of God over all the earth.

You are a living, walking symbol of God’s Kingship – when the animals see you, they are reminded that God rules over everything. When other people see you, they would be reminded of the rule and reign of God Almighty.

You are a walking billboard for God!

The Way We Treat Others

This fact should also change the way we treat others – for if they were made in the image of God, then they are to be treated like royalty. They too are a symbol of God’s Kingship – and when we see each other we should be reminded that God is King.

Did you hear that?

When we see each other we should be reminded that God is King!! The evil one is not king, the rich are not king, not even the powerful – we ourselves are not king. God is king.

Furthermore, as the British author and philosopher Philip Sherrard observed:

“The very concept of man implies a relationship, a connection with God. Where one affirms man one also affirms God.” – Philip Sherrard

We are made in the image of the Triune God – The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit – and as such, we are made to be in relationship both with God and humanity. This is why God said:

“It is not good for the man to be alone.” –Genesis 2:18

We were made to be in community…..

I would like to pause here for a moment and squash a lie of the evil one: Women are not less than.

There is no hierarchy in God – as Paul says in Galatians:

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” -Galatians 3:28

Furthermore, I would like to point out that the Bible takes 6 verses to describe the creation of women whereby it only uses one for Adam. This was HUGE for nowhere else in ancient history is the creation of women told – the stories of Egypt, Canaan and Mesopotamia only talk about the male.

Yet God is telling the women of Israel that they are important. They are needed – creation is not complete until Eve is made.  They are not simply baby factories nor property to be used nor are they slaves – instead they were made to be a ‘helper’ – a help mate for man.

Men – this means that we need women.

We need each other. We were created for each other… now, please don’t go to the extreme for there are men and women who have been called to live the single life either for a time or for their whole lives. If God has called them to this, praise be to God. He will make them complete for no human can make the other complete.

I only mention this because of the opposite extreme in which most cultures across the world and history have degraded the female gender. We, as people of God, must walk between these two extremes – knowing that both male and female were created in the image of God and therefore should be respected and treated as children of God.

Remember the song Emily sang (“What Love Really Means” by JJ Heller) earlier today? It reflects the cry of the human heart:

Who will love me for me?
Not for what I have done or what I will become
Who will love me for me?
‘Cause nobody has shown me what love
What love really means, what love really means

Community….

“The old men used to say that we should each of us look upon our neighbor’s experiences as if they were our own. We should suffer with our neighbor in everything and weep with him, and should behave as if we were inside his body; and if any trouble befalls him, we should feel as much distress as we would for ourselves.” –The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (3rd Century AD)

The Way We View Our Relationship With God

{note that I did not type out everything in this section as I ran out of preparation time…instead, I just ‘flowed’ with it using the below notes as a guideline directing me towards the main message.}

To believe that man is made in God’s image is to believe that man is created for communion and union with God, and that if he rejects this communion he ceases to be properly man. There is no such thing as “natural man” existing in separation from God: man cut off from God is in a highly unnatural state.  – Bishop Kallistos Ware

God made us for relationship. Humanity was not created to be a slave or by accident.  God created us because He wanted to talk to us –

We get the same intimate relationship that Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden because of the Holy Spirit.

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. -Galatians 4:6-7

The spirit marks us.Setting aside time to be quiet – to listen and be with God. Expect God to talk to you!

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