Read Genesis 1:26-31. If time permits, read Genesis 1:1 – 2:3.
With the advent of smartphone cameras, the selfies are now commonplace in our lives. We have the wonderful blessing of taking a photo of ourselves to remember events or places we’ve been. This also allows us to share those photos with loved ones. We trust that these photos are faithful representations of who we are, and the places that we’ve been. In other words, these photos are “images” of the real people and places. As we start our advent devotional for 2019, let’s go back to the start of the Bible, and reflect upon God’s image-bearers in our world.
The beginning of the Bible gives us a wonderful picture of how God has set up this world to operate. There is a sense of wonder and accomplishment as we read of God creating each element on each successive day. He created everything out of nothing. The sun, moon, and stars (day 4) to fill the light and the day (day 1). Creatures of the sea and birds (day 5) to fill the earth and the sky (day 2). Finally, we have creatures on the ground (day 6) to fill the land together with the vegetations (day 3). On Day 6, mankind is given special attention and mention on Genesis 1:26-31 above all of the other creation of God.
Mankind is the only creation that God made out of his image and likeness (v24, 27). While plenty of books have been written on exactly what this image entails, it is clear from the passage that it generally refers to mankind’s capacity for (1) relationships, and (2) rulership. As Christians, we recognize the Trinitarian nature of our God, 3 persons in 1 being, existing in happy communion and relationship for all of eternity past. Mankind are relational beings, just like our God is (v26-27). We are designed for communities, to have strong relationships, and to enjoy deep friendships.
Another aspect is our capacity to rule (v26-31). However, it is not the tyrannical rule that we often hear about in the news. Rather, it is a rulership of love and care, just like our God. Mankind is called to be “fruitful and increase in number”, and to care for (and not exploit) God’s creation. Thus, we are God’s image-bearers in our world today. We are meant to reflect who God is, just like how a photo is supposed to reflect who we are.
However, because of sin, there is no one who is able to reflect God perfectly in this world. We are like corrupted images, marred and tainted by sin. This is why the Christmas event is so remarkable – God himself comes down in the person of Jesus Christ and becomes the true and faithful reflection of who God is (cf. Col 1:15-20). He’s the one who rules with love and care by dying for his people. He restores our broken relationship with God through his death and resurrection.
As we start our advent calendar, let us be thankful for the coming of Christ, the true and faithful image-bearer of God. If there is anyone who is keen to know who or what God is like, we can point them to Jesus Christ, the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). This is why Christians celebrate Christmas each year with the angels singing “Glory to the new-born king!”
- Pray and thank God for this wonderful world that he has created us to enjoy.
- Pray and thank God for Jesus who is the true image-bearer of God, who restored our relationship with God and rules with self-sacrificial love.