What does it mean to be human?
What makes human beings different from the rest of the animal kingdom? Are we just more advanced cousins of monkeys, or is it more than that?
In the first chapter of the Bible, God reveals something unique about human beings. The way in which we are fundamentally different from all the other creatures God made.
26 Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’
29 Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day.Genesis 1
Human beings reflect God in a way that nothing else does. Anything we make reveals something about us, and it’s similar with God. The Universe He made shows us what He’s like: mindbogglingly huge, infinitely fascinating, generously creative, interested in every detail…
But mankind was made as a deliberate likeness of God. There are ways that we reflect who God is that nothing else can. There are many ways in which we are not like God – we are physical, God is Spirit – we are created, God is uncreated – we are limited, God is infinite…
But we do reflect God in the way that we are made, and this short piece of text give us some starting points:
- God is personal, finding joy in relationship. And we do too. We make connections with people, we communicate, we love and are loved…
- God is creative, making all sorts of different things. And we are made to be co-creators, the only creatures to make art, tell stories, build for pleasure, decorate for beauty…
- God exercises authority, ruling over creation for good. And we are given authority too. (More of this tomorrow.)
This gives each individual human life astonishing value. We’re are highly esteemed, not because of anything we do or any self-esteem we generate. We are of great worth, because of who, how and why we’re made.
We don’t need to declare our own worth from the rooftops or the social media platform. We don’t need to create our own worth by our astonishing achievements. As created beings made in the image of God, we are given great value by God. We can find security in the one who made us.
But even more wonderful, because we’re made in God’s image, we can have a relationship with God in a way that no other creature can. Because there is a likeness, there can be a connection. We can know God.
Putting into Practice
- Look at the different people around you today – take special care to notice the people you might often overlook. Remind yourself of who they were made to be. Remember that as you deal with a stranger on the phone or bump into someone in a shop.
- Come to God and thank Him for your immense value. Thank God that He has made you so that He can love you.