Monday, September 3, 2012

Imago Dei

Do you ever wonder what it means that we are created in the image of God (imago Dei)? Do we look like God somehow? Perhaps the things we do image Him. After all, He made us sub-creators in His creation, cultivators in His garden of earth.

Many Christian writers and thinkers of our present time point to being sub-creators as one of the chief ways we reflect God's image. However, there are some puzzling conclusions when drawn out to that end. What about persons who are sleeping, or in a coma, or whose brain function is very low, or the unborn? Does one's lack of 'sub-creating' make them sub-human, or un-human, or less able to 'image' God?

God did not make us human doings, He made us human beings. We are not part of the animal kingdom, we are not under the dominion of anyone but God Himself. He made us intentionally both to be and to do. The King of the universe made us in His image, possessing authority over all of this earth. Whether we are creating business, tools, art, homes, relationships, music, food, et cetera, or whether we are sleeping, in a coma, or are still in the womb, we are human beings, distinct from every other created thing.

Human beings appreciate Beauty, something no other creature has the capacity to grasp. Further, only we experience the pang inside at the Beauty of deep oranges, pinks, and orchids that infuse sunset-spangled clouds. Plants and animals eat to grow and live, but human beings eat a variety of foods for their diverse flavours, even artistically arranging the foodstuff on their plates.

Look at the blue sky, the tufted clouds filtered through shiny green oak leaves. Listen to the birds trill, the crickets chant their clarion call. Listen to the wind crashing through leaf-clad branches, smell the lashing rain on the soil, and see the fierce flashes of heaven-flung fire. Feel the fresh breath of the wind, taste the first flakes of snow, drive with the windows down (and the radio off) just because.

Have you yet learnt to be alone with your thoughts? Can you go a day without background music? Do you know how to sit still without even a book or a pen in hand? Chances are that you have not learnt these things either at all, or as well as you would like. 

Even on those rare occasions when a modern undergraduate is not attending some such society he is seldom engaged in those solitary walks, or walks with a single companion, which built the minds of the previous generations. He lives in a crowd; caucus has replaced friendship.

We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.
~ C. S. Lewis in his essay, Membership  

As a human being, I grow weary of the pull others place upon me. "What are you doing with your life?", "Are you planning to go to college?" (really, I am 27-years-old, can you please stop asking this one?), "What is next for you?", et cetera. Perhaps I ought to reply, "I am being where I am." Part of being involves work, friendships, reading, hiking, cooking, studying, and the like. But it is more, it is deeper, it is knowing that those things don't make me who or what I am. I am imago Dei, not of my own choice, power, or ability, but by His kindness, good will, and authority.

"I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about –born in God's thought– and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking."
~ George MacDonald