January 22, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’ . . . So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”—Genesis 1:26–27 (NKJV)
Although this passage isn’t typically considered to be very “Christmassy,” it reveals something essential to our understanding of what this season is all about. In fact, we could go so far as to say that without this portion of the creation account, there never would have been a Christmas.
Our understanding needs to begin way back in the beginning, as God is bringing into being the universe and everything in it. As He forms and shapes the heavens, the earth, and all that is on the earth, we consistently see His works of creation identified by the words, “It was good” (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25). This leads us all the way up to this very passage, where God’s next and final creative act is to make mankind.
This is where things take a dramatic turn in the story; because now, after having brought humanity into His creative work, it’s now identified as being “very good” (Genesis 1:31). The introduction of man and woman suddenly elevates the value of all the Lord had made. That’s because something special and sacred was placed into the very nature of humanity, nothing less than the image and likeness of God!
Scholars refer to this divine act of impartation as the “Imago Dei” (image of God), and it reflects the unique value and bond that we, as human beings, have with our almighty Creator. The wonders of heaven and earth are many and marvelous: the Pacific Ocean, Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, the Milky Way . . . each possesses the power to leave one speechless. And yet, none of them, not even the sum total of every glory of creation, can compare to the Imago Dei which we bear in our being.
In His infinite wisdom, God decided that we, out of all creation, were to reflect His image and likeness. A glimpse of who He is would be made visible through us. How?
The Hebrew words for “image and likeness” convey more than just an outward appearance. They also represent an inner quality of character and nature. If we may use the expression, they point to the essential “heart” of who God is. That is what mankind has been given, the precious honor of expressing God’s heart and revealing what He is “like.” And this is precisely what happens whenever we exercise forgiveness when we’ve been wronged, love unconditionally, serve sacrificially at our own expense, choose mercy over judgment, etc. These are qualities only found in the lives of men and women, nothing else in all creation conveys these defining attributes of its Creator.
Truly, the connection between humanity and God is one of a kind, which lays the foundation for what took place on that first Christmas. For although we possess the unique ability to make God known, we also possess the power to defile and destroy what He made perfect, which is what we do through our disobedience and sin. God made us in His image and likeness, but we became broken and fallen, in desperate need of rescue and salvation. This is why Jesus was born into the world, to redeem those who were chosen to bear His image and restore them to their place of purpose and dignity.
God sent His Son to us because of the special bond He forged back in the beginning. We were special to Him then, we’re special to Him now, and we’ll be special to Him throughout eternity. Let this truth ring all throughout your celebration of Christmas this year!
Pause: What makes the bond between God and humanity so special?
Practice: Consider how this unique connection between us and our Creator plays a role in the Christmas story.
Pray: Heavenly Father, we easily forget just how special and unique we are in Your purposes and plan. Fill us with an understanding of how You’ve favored us and a joy in the opportunity we have to bear Your image and likeness before the watching world, especially at this time of year. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.