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Created In The Image of God
I remember high school science class. I sat in the far row against the wall, the third table from the front. Bill was my lab partner. One of the things we learned was that people were simply animals. More advanced than other animals in some ways, but still animals. And like all other animals, we are just a collection of chemicals that was worth about 98 cents (at that time).
Is That True? Are We Simply Another Animal?
Bases on taxonomy humans are in the domain Eukarya and the kingdom Animalia.
At the top is a division of life into two categories, Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes. Eukaryotes have cells in which the nucleus is enclosed within membranes. Prokaryotes do not have a membrane enclosing the nucleous. Humans are in hte Eukarya domain.
Next life is divided into various kingdoms. Depending on where you live (countries have differebnt standards) there are either five or six kingdoms. In the U.S. we have six kingdoms, which include animalia, plantae, fungi, and bacteria. Humans are in the "animalia (animal) kingdom. So that's it, humans are animals.
Who came up with these categories? Not God. These are human created categories based on human thinking and wisdom. In what category does God place humans? To answer that we need to know the categories God has defined?1
- Vegetation (Genesis 1:11)
- Creatures in the water (Genesis 1:20)
- Flying creatures (Genesis 1:20)
- Cattle - domesticated land creatures (Genesis 1:24)
- Creeping things (Genesis 1:24)
- Beasts of the earth - undomesticated land creatures (Genesis 1:24)
Man - created in God's image (Genesis 1:26-27)
According to God, humanity -- that's us -- are in our own category... the image of God.
What Does "Created In The Image of God" Mean?
Being created in the image of God does not mean we physically look like God. Scripture is not talking about a physical image. God is spirit and does not exist physically. He created all that is physical (hte universe and all that is in it), but God exists outside of the physical universe.
Being created in the image of God also does not mean we are gods or will/can become a god. What it means is that we have some of the charcteristics iof God, but to a lesser degree. And as a result of the fall the image of God in us in further distorted.
What Does It Mean?
God creates. He created the entire universe. We are creative, artistically, scientifically and intellectually. No other being on the face of the earth creates at the level of human creativity.
God is moral and just. God's morality is defined by His character. For example, the Ten Commandments are not a set of arbitrary laws. They describe the character of God. And since we bear the image of God, they describe what our character is to be like. That's why breaking one of the Ten Commandments is so serious. It means, as His image bearer, we have repesented God as a liar, theif, adulterer, idol worshipper, etc. And God is just... there will be justice... meaning there are consequences for breaking God's laws. No other being on the face of the earth has moral standards and enforces justice at the level that humanity does.
God is merciful and gives grace. To have mercy means to be kind and forgiving, especially to those who cannot benefit you. Grace means to love, help and give to those who do not deserve your love, help or generousity. Yes, there are people who are takers. Who are completely self-centered, caring nothing for anyone else. They show no mercy nor grace. But still, humanity stands far above all other life in our ability to show mercy and grace.
Just looking at these three areas you should notice a HUGE gap between humanity and animals. The gap between us is so huge that it can never be bridged. Yes, some animals do exhibit human-like behavior in very limited ways. Some behavior is simply a learned response, not characteristic of those animals. Some is simply instinctual behavior that mimics a human characterist. And some is truly similar, but nowhere near to the depth, breadth, and complexity of what we see in humanity.
For More About The Image Of God:
What Humans Do But Animals Don’t (CMI August 2019)
For More About The Image Of God:
What Does Being Made in the Image of God Mean? (GQ)
Made in the image of God (CMI)
Loving God’s Image in Our Neighbors (GTY)
(1) Note, organisms such as bacteria are not included in any of the categories defined in Genesis. Didn't God know about bacteria? Of course He did. The Bible is not intended to be a science textbook. It is about God, sin, and God's plan of redemption. In telling us about these subjects scripture touches on scientific subjects. And in every case scripture is correct in what it describes (such as the water cycle). In Genesis God is telling us that He created everything... including all life. He has listed the major lifeforms that people, throughout all of history, would be familar with. A complete listing of all organisms is not needed in order to make the point that God created everything.
Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kanzi,_conversing.jpg -- William H. Calvin, PhD
GETTING A RIDE
ON THE ROAD TO LIFE
You will exist forever. The question is, where? Disobeying God is the road to death, and we have all disobeyed God:
For all have sinned [disobeyed God] and fall short of the glory of God. - Romans 3:23
The consequence of sin is death. You will exist experiencing death forever.
For the wages of sin is death... - Romans 6:23a
But there is GOOD News! You can have life!
...but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23b
God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8
Instead of our experiencing death forever, Christ died in our place. Repent (turn away from disobeying God), believe this, trusting that Jesus truly did die in your place.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. - Romans 5:1