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



  1. Ah Jody, what encouragement this brings to my heart.

    For years, I've struggled with the fact that I might not be doing anything with my life. It's now that I'm in MN, away from things and people familiar, that the Lord has drawn me closer to Him and asked me, "How exactly are you defining 'doing'?" Now I'm coming to understand that what I most want is to love Jesus and bring honor to Him. Those are the guidelines set in whatever I do. And it is enough.

    I've wondered sometimes whether I have too much solitude - I tend to very much like quietness and walks and thought, and through that, friendship that is very hard to find today. It's your thoughts like these that make me wonder if the solitude is actually a gift from the Lord at present... His goodness is so boundless.

    (I got your postcard. I promise to write you back ^_^.)


    1. Danielle!

      So good to hear from you, my friend!

      I have often found that when we are away from the familiar God has far more of our attention. We in fact cling to Him much more, because we have nothing else to rest upon... And in that act of resting on Him we learn much more how to be. It certainly requires spending time in His word, in worship, in His presence... Because as we know Him more deeply we see more clearly who He made us.

      As for solitude... I think daily times of solitude are good, but God definitely made us for fellowship (not just with himself, since He said it was not good for Adam to be alone), and we certainly have a responsibility toward unbelievers to share the love and truth about Jesus with them.

      Glad the postcard arrived! Did you get my letter back in the spring? I am rather distrustful of the USPS, and wasn't sure if it got to you. Can't wait to hear more about what the LORD is teaching you!

      ~ Jody

  2. Wonderful post, Jody! What an encouragement...esPECIALLY that last quote! This post has given me much to think about! Thank you!
    I miss you lots my beautiful friend!!!!!