April 25, 2015 • Life for Leaders
Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Today, we encounter a new twist in the story of creation found in Genesis 1. Throughout the first twenty-five verses we have seen a fairly consistent narrative style. God says “Let there be” and whatever God has spoken comes into existence: light, dome, waters, vegetation, sun, moon, living creatures in sea and sky, living creatures on the earth.
But verse 26 breaks the pattern. God does not say, “Let there be humankind,” but rather, “Let us make humankind in our image.” Let us make. Us? To whom does this first person plural refer? Who is “us”?
In tomorrow’s Life for Leaders devotion, I’ll suggest how we might approach this question. Today, however, I simply want to note the shift in narrative style. This suggests that something new and crucial is happening in the story. However we interpret “us,” Genesis uses this language to cue us to the novelty and importance of what is to follow. In the previous acts of creation, God simply spoke creation into existence. Now, God engages in a dialogue of some kind with something or somebody. Even if “Let us” is just a rhetorical device, not a hint of some heavenly plurality, the narrative is clearly alerting us to what is coming.
In the days ahead, we’ll walk slowly through Genesis 1:26-27. For now, let me encourage you to read and reflect upon this crucial text. Indeed, it is one of the most theologically pregnant passages in all of Scripture. Moreover, its truth speaks in a pointed way to leaders, helping us to understand who we are and how we are to live and lead.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
As you read Genesis 1:26-27, what strikes you? What questions come to mind? What insights begin to form? When you read “Let us,” how do you understand this first person plural? To whom does “us” seem to refer?
Gracious God, as we begin to consider such a foundational passage of Scripture, may we pay close attention to your Word. Grant us wisdom as we seek to understand what the text says and how it speaks to our life and leadership. May your Spirit teach us, guide us, and inspire us. Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.