The beginning of the mission
Last week we began the message with the statement:
all of life exists to declare the supremacy of God
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. // Psalm 24:1 NLT
It is important for us to come to grip with this, for in the understanding and embracing of it our purposes, vision and mission are formed.
Then we stated that one way we display God’s supremacy is to embrace the work that he has for us. We shared that His work is for us to believe in Jesus and to join Him in his mission.
So what is that? What is God’s mission? If you and I are to join God on mission, I think we really ought invest time in understanding God and his mission.
As we look at God’s mission, and we try to answer the question of why God would choose man, perhaps we should start with why God created mankind. I think it is important to go back to the beginning of the story.
ILLUS: Watch this video clip form Princess Bride: https://youtu.be/RqaNi0UfOoI If you didn’t know the story that clip makes no sense. Sometimes we pick up a scene in God’s story, but without knowing the rest of the story we might miss out on some very important details.
Let’s go back to the beginning of The Book: to Genesis and look at God’s work in creating man.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female. 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.” 29 God also said, “Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This will be food for you, 30 for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth—everything having the breath of life in it—I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day. // Genesis 1:26–31 CSB
Made to represent our Creator
In verse 26 we have two very significant words: image and likeness.
צֶ֫לֶם - ṣě·lěm
Idol. That is the literal meaning of the Hebrew word for image. You are I are mini representations, mini images of the Creator God. Our humanity was designed to be a representation of our divine origin.
εἰκών – eikōn
Image. Likeness. Representation. Those are the meanings of the word eikon from which we get our English word, ICON from. In the new testament it is the word eikon.
9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator. // Colossians 3:9–10 CSB
** I hope to get a chance to jump into this topic a bit more in the future.
Mankind was created to iconic. We were made to be representations of God on earth.
- We see this in the job that he gave Adam: subdue the earth and rule it. All of life exists for God’s supremacy, and he chose to give us the authority to rule as He does.
- We see this in the first commandment to Adam & Eve: be fruitful and multiply. We call this pro-creation. Our Creator God gave is the ability and the command to create.
- Dialog about being LIKE our parents. Not only do we create new lives, but they are made in our image and likeness. What does that MEAN?
- NOTE: I think one of the most challenging times of parenting comes when your child does something wrong and you KNOW you used to do it and they get that from you!
You and I, [every man, woman and child] is made in the image of God. It is was sets us above the rest of creation and what makes us special.
Made for relationships.
It wasn’t that God made man and just dropped him off in the Garden and said, “I’ll be back in a few hundred years… be good!
15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.” … 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place. 22 Then the Lord God made the rib he had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 And the man said: This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called “woman,” for she was taken from man. 24 This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame. // Genesis 2:15–25 CSB
Man was made for a relationship with God.
The rest of creation was not created this way. God created man and spoke to man. He walked with man in the garden. He gave a job to him. He told him what NOT to eat and what to eat.
In 1:28 it says that God blessed man and woman. Blessing are things you pass on to people that matter to you. God chose to bless mankind. What is the greatest blessing he could give us? A personal relationship with him.
- This is what the Bible calls him a jealous God (Deut 4:24)
- This is why we are commanded to walk humbly with him (Micah 6:8)
- This is the marriage of image and relationship!!
- This is why we can run to Him as our refuge and shelter (Psalm 91)
- This is why we are told that God is love (1 John 4:7-8) and that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39)
- This is why the greatest commandment is to love God with all of your heart, soul and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4)
If God did not create us for relationship with him, then there would be no need for love.
Man was made for relationship with other humans.
It was not good for man to be alone. This is the first not-good thing in all of creation. Aloneness. It is NOT good for ANY person to be alone.
Adam needed others to complete him. Not just in the marriage context. When Jesus stated that pure and undefiled religion in the site of God was to visit widows and orphans he was reiterating that it is NOT GOOD for man to be alone.
27 Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world. // James 1:27 CSB
We were created for relationship.
- Perhaps this is why the majority of the 10 commandments that God gave Moses for the nation Israel have to do with how we treat others (Deuteronomy 5).
- Perhaps this is what Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:39)
The conclusion of Creation
And after man and woman were made in the image of God, with relationship with God and each other, God declared this creation “very good”.
Extremely, severely, largely, greatly, completely, powerfully good!
God’s original design for you and me, for all of mankind, was relationship and representation. We were made to be with God and to reflect God. And this original plan was extremely, deeply, greatly, very good. 😉
For us to understand the work of God, we need to understand that the original plan was for man to be the representation of God on earth and to be in continual relationship with both God and each other.
In a perfect world, with perfect people, this would still be the perfect situation. But to be perfectly honest, it’s not.
But that is for next week as we continue the God story.
As we wrap up this morning, take a few minutes to think about:
- What does it mean that you were made in the image of God?
- What are some ways you could represent God on this earth?
- What relationships do you need to work on?
- What relationships bring you the most joy?
- How is your relationship with God?