Genesis 1:27, ‘God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.’
Genesis 2:7, ‘Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.’
These 2 verses in Genesis 1 & 2 present us with a bit of a paradox in that God created human beings in His own image and then describes how He created them from the dirt on the ground…we’re frail carbon based life here on planet earth, and yet in our frailty we reflect the glory of God almighty. Though we are but dust we carry the image and likeness of God. How can we be mere dust and yet reflect the image and likeness of God…it’s a paradox!
Adam was the first man and some Bible dictionaries say his name means ‘red’ but if you look a little deeper you find that the name Adam means ‘acre man’ which is a man of the who produces agricultural crops, not just the colour of the earth. Interestingly, ‘adamah’ is the Hebrew word for “ground” and Adam was created from the adamah and his task was to work the adamah and when he died his physical body was returned to the adamah. Adam was the very first ‘earthling’ and yet there was nothing ordinary about him because when God formed Adam from the adamah, He then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and Adam became a ‘living being’. This act by God Himself breathing His breath into Adam set him apart from the rest of the creation.
An 18th century rabbi said, “A person should always carry two slips of paper, one in each pocket. On one should be written ‘The world was created for my sake,’ and on the other it should say ‘I am but dust and ashes.’”[i] On days when we feel discouraged and worthless, we should read the first note. On days when we’re consumed with pride and our own self-importance, we should read the other note.
C.S. Lewis wrote a book called ‘The Weight of Glory’ and in it he stresses the point that by understanding the eternal significance of every person we meet, it should alter the way we treat them. [ii]
Every person has the possibility of becoming someone of great renown; a politician, an artist, a musician, an author, a spokesman, an inventor; and along with that ‘great renown’ comes the possibility that other human beings could treat them as being more than human, like little gods or goddesses, deified and given adulation and worship. This is not a far-fetched statement because we see this happening all around us all the time.
Consider the adoration and worship of musicians and politicians like Barak Obama, his presidency was treated as though it was the second coming; or the way the German people revered Hitler, and even the way royalty has been revered throughout millennia; artists, sports men and women, authors and actors in the Entertainment Industry, who are treated as though they’re the messiah and have all the answers for humanity’s woes. And yet…these same human gods and goddesses can fall from favour in the blink of an eye and can become despised, ostracised and ridiculed and the videos of it will go viral globally in mere minutes.
We live in a day and age that is positively obsessed with ‘self’ and ‘self’ permeates our entire lives, consider these very common terms.
self-awareness; self-assurance; self-belief; self-confidence; self-made; self-promotion; self-love; self-worth; self-reliance; self-respect; self-esteem; self-seeking; self-sufficient; self-importance; self-improvement; self-talk; self-indulgent; self-discipline; self-actualisation; self-satisfaction…there are so many more!
In truth, we’re obsessed with ourselves. We’re the centre of our universe and we don’t understand why others don’t always see us as the centre of theirs. Don’t they know how important we are?
How many times have we heard someone say that the reason God created us was because He was lonely? Really? God…the Creator of the universe, the First Person of the Godhead, who was, always has been and always will be in perfect union and fellowship with the God the Son and God the Holy Spirit was so lonely that the only way He could overcome that loneliness was to create people whom He knew would sin and rebel against Him, they’d create chaos and havoc in the world, fill it with all manner of evil and cause Him untold levels of sorrow and heartache and, who He would ultimately have to sacrifice Himself to save??? Really?
That is absolutely not taught anywhere in Scripture and it’s not even inferred anywhere in Scripture. God doesn’t need human beings to overcome loneliness and He doesn’t need us for Him to be complete…He is ALL sufficient and complete and is in perfect fellowship and harmony within the Godhead. He created us for His glory and for our benefit…not for His benefit.
Isaiah 43:7, ‘Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I’ve made.”
Man was created in God’s image so that we would stand out from the rest of His creation allowing us to have fellowship with Him, and again, He created us for our benefit but ultimately for His glory. Remember, our form comes from Him, our living soul comes from Him, our creativity comes from Him, our intelligence comes from Him, not from within or by our own selves and this is why we must always remember that we are but dust. The incredible nature of each human being however, is a direct result of God Himself.
Keeping our perception of ourselves in balance and in accordance with God’s Word is incredibly important. Human beings are the pinnacle of God’s creation; listen to what David says in Psalm 139.
Psalm 139:1-18, ‘O Lord, You’ve searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinise my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You’re there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You’re there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night.” Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.’
The object of absolute focus and awe of the psalmist in Psalm 139 is God…in fact, the psalmist expresses just how overwhelmed he is at how powerful and amazing God is when he says that the knowledge and intimate understanding that God has of him no matter where he is or what he’s doing is “too wonderful for me; it’s too high and I cannot attain to it.”
The most striking thing that the psalmist expresses is great humility because he realises that while God is intimately aware of him as an individual – which is wonderful and marvelous and beyond comprehension – he realises how unbelievably small he is in comparison to His Maker.
In the next program we’ll look some more at the self-focused, self-obsessed attitude of our societies as we learn more about the brokenness of the human condition.
[i] Rabbi Simcha Bunam of Peshischa, contrasting Mishnah,Sanhedrin 4:5 and Genesis 18:27.
[ii] C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: HarperOne, 2001), 45-46.