Who Reflects Whom?

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26, 27)

In a simple yet straightforward way, Genesis states our beginning. While this could be a deeply theological discussion about the origin of humanity, I prefer here and now to direct your attention to other understandings. (1) Human origin is in God. In our origin, we have great privilege and great responsibility. (2) Our privilege: humanity has a unique ability to reflect God. (3) Our responsibility: reflect Him accurately.

What a blessing for people to be able to reflect God! God’s calling: be the best human we are capable of being. We are not urged to look to our concerns, desires, or self-indulgence as we seek to be our best. We are not even urged to look at the good things around us to determine “good.” “Good” is found in reflecting the God who brought human life into existence. That is the dedication that challenges us to be unselfishly dedicated to His character, filled with grace, and compassionate. Those who first belonged to God failed miserably because they allowed greed, mistrust, and selfishness to conquer them. By submitting to characteristics unworthy of God, they alienated themselves from God. May those who belong to Him now not make Adam and Eve's mistake! Our blessing is found in reflecting Him!

Our responsibility is seen in our willingness to reflect Him accurately. Realizing He made us (not we Him), we seek to ask the proper question. It is not, “What seems ‘good’ to me?” It is, “What does the Holy God say is good?” At times we are so consumed with self-interest as we seek to endure in an ungodly situation, we are severely tempted to define good for God instead of allowing Him to show us good (“this is surely what God would say and do”). We claim to reflect Him when we actually reflect our own concerns. The end result: as we seek to do good, evil results. Perhaps the greater damage is done when we who are supposed to reflect God actually discredit God. Those who do not know God look at us who are supposed to know God and say, “If that is the way Christians act, I want no part of it.”

The wonderful news is that God is patient if we are willing to learn and act on our new understanding. He commonly is nicer to us than we are to others. He shows us how to act by using Jesus, and patiently waits for us to learn.

The weighty news involves us. We individually are responsible for our decisions and acts. It is not an “anything goes” life. It is a life devoted to learning (1) how to be responsible and (2) how appropriately to reflect God in our decisions and actions.

After 50 years of preaching, the principle thing I learned in my life and His word is this: the necessity of combining His patience with an understanding of Him. “Lord, thank you for being so patient with us! Help us learn compassion from You!”

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 24 January 2008

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