Functioning As God’s Image
“What is the purpose of your life?” or, “What in life gives you the most fulfillment?”
We all have a purpose, fulfilled in a function, that gives us meaning. Let’s look into two parts of a scripture passage that helps us realize our purpose, function, and meaning.
“God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.’ 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).
You and I are created in God’s image. No other created life is said to be in God’s image. The scripture might even imply that angels are not made in God’s image. Now, humans, and animals, and angels do share some of God’s attributes in common. We all have emotions. We all have intelligence up to a point. We all communicate is various ways. However, none of these things has to do with God’s image revealed in Genesis 1. So, allow me help you define what it means to be in God’s image.
What is an image? In ancient times rulers set up images of themselves to establish their authority over the people in the area where the image was set. This was done for rulers as well as the false gods of the day. This is why the Roman world put up statues throughout their empire of the various Caesars and images of false God’s, Zeus, Hermes, Apollo, and so on.
God also uses images to establish his authority. We are his image used to demonstrate his authority over all creation. As images, we are co-regents with him, caring for the world he created. Wherever the image might be there was authority and influence. You are the image of God. How do you extend God’s authority where you are?
So what is it that actually makes us in God’s image? Look at Genesis 1:28.
“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that crawls upon the earth.’”
It is these five things that make us in God’s image and only man has received the image of God in doing these five things. So, let me ask you a series of questions.
From Genesis 1:
When was God fruitful? When God began to create the universe.
When did God multiply? When he created men and women.
When did God fill the Earth? When he created all kinds of life to populate it.
When did God subdue the Earth? When he worked to bring the unformed mass of the earth under his creative control.
When did God rule? When he issued commands to Adam and Eve about their lives in the garden.
No where in scripture do we see angels multiplying, or filling the earth, or subduing the earth, or ruling over it. We can then imply that angels are not created in God’s image. Neither are animals in God’s image because they do not subdue the earth, or rule over the earth or man. Only man is given these five functions. It is the combination of these five functions that make us the image of God and give us purpose and a reason to return love to God. Let’s call each of these five things, Image Functions.
When we function as God’s image, we find purpose, function, and meaning. Let me give you a few examples of what I call, Image Functions.
If I bring someone to faith in Christ I have fulfilled the image function of multiplying, and through that fulfillment, find meaning.
If I manage a business, or lead a group of people, I am ruling, which is an image function, and I find meaning.
If I create something, I operate in the image function of subduing and in that I find meaning.
If I raise a family I perform the image functions of being fruitful and multiplying.
We can do this with all of the image functions. No matter what you do you live as God’s image, performing the functions that God gives and by that we experience meaning.
If we are looking for meaning in life, we can look at God’s creation of man in his image, performing the functions he created us to do. Whether it is personal, or family, or vocation, or whatever it may be, when we operate in the five image functions we can find a purpose that gives us meaning.