“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”Genesis 1:26-31 NKJV
Humanity as a creation is God’s special, holy, ultimately designed creature. We are the only creatures that were created “in the image of God”. As the Image of God, we were given dominion over all the earth, claimed as ruler over creation, and even co-creators with the Uncreated Maker. Mankind were given a mission statement, a Holy task to echo and reflect God in creation; to serve and do His will, to establish His presence, and to convert all that exists into the paradise of God. Humans are subjected to a higher position in the created order because we are established with godlike characteristics. A life of godliness, acting upon our original nature before the fall, is the road to living a life of complete truthful fulfilment.
Jesus Christ, being the Son of God in human flesh, the Divine Word, through his full revelation, allows us through Orthodox doctrine to appreciate and become knowledgeable in what it truly means to be human and the real meaning of manhood, created in God’s Image. Correspondingly, Saint Paul further describes Adam and his significance as the first man, a figure or a type of the One who was to come – Jesus Christ, the Perfect Man and the Last Adam, the “man from heaven”.
“And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”I Corinthians 15:45-49 NKJV
According to the Orthodox church fathers, it is known to bear the image of God is to be like the uncreated image of God, Christ. It is to adhere to all the spiritual attributes of the “Man from Heaven”. Only through grace, should we attain all that God himself is by nature.
If God is a personal, compassionate being, spiritual, Holy, free of any uncontentment, so us human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, male and female, are called to be the same.
If God is creative and powerful having dominion over all creation, so us as the human creatures who reflect the sovereignty of His divine existence, we are also to put to practice dominion through gifted grace. God also, even His begotten son Jesus Christ, as a divine Man did not exercise tyranny and oppression through His dominion, but displayed unconditional kindness, understanding and service, we His creatures are to do likewise.
If the Trinity is inseparable of love, we also ought to be inseparable of love. There is a significant reason why Christ set commandants to fulfil His standard of Love within the world, to allow us to adhere back to the “image” we were created in. God is love, and God’s love is perfect, and so we also must love with the perfect Love of God.
Thereafter, if God lives forever, always exisiting in harmonious perfection, surrounded by the saints, the cherubim and the seraphim, and with all the rest of the creation. So human beings are made for everlasting life, never dying, and to live in joyful love and communion with God and the whole creation.
Nevertheless, the evident reality of today is that there is a significant distinction between the holiness of God’s character and human character. This is because of our direct or indirect rejection of God’s standards, our sinful reality is only solved through the substitution of the atonement of Jesus Christ, who is the very image of God Himself.
It is true that the image of God we express is distressed, and even fractured. But there it will always be, glimmering in day to day interaction, shinning within every choice, bursting forth in our longings and desires. God’s image in us forever calls us back to the One original source. This realisation changes the way we look at ourselves. It also changes the way we look at others. C.S. Lewis wrote “ There are no ordinary people,”. “You have never met a mere mortal.”. Once you start seeing the image of God in yourself and others, the world never looks the same again.
Through Jesus Christ alone, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, and submission to God’s standard’s of Holiness, mankind stand corrected before God, conforming to the image of His Son, that we were originally created to be.
SAYG ~ Michael Soliman.