April 29, 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.”
Have you ever been told that you’re like someone else, someone you admire and respect, someone you’d love to be like? I had that experience many times while growing up. My family and I were members of Hollywood Presbyterian Church, where my Uncle Don was one of the pastors. People in the church would tell me I looked like Don, sounded like Don, and acted like Don. I took that as a supreme compliment because I thought my Uncle Don was just about the coolest person in the world. The notion that I was like Don delighted me and encouraged me to aspire to live a fruitful life for the kingdom, just as Don was doing.
Genesis 1 tells us that we are not just like some awesome person but like God. Before creating human beings, God says, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness” (1:26). Then God does this very thing (1:27). Human beings are like God in a unique way, unlike any other created thing.
As you can imagine, for millennia theologians have pondered the precise sense in which we are like God. Theories abound on what parts of us reflect God’s own image. Most agree that this language is not to be taken literally as if we bear a physical resemblance to God. Yet there is less agreement on what our likeness to God actually entails.
In tomorrow’s devotion, I’ll suggest what it might mean for us to be created in God’s image and likeness. For now, though, I’d like to encourage you to find a few moments to consider this basic, transformational truth: you are like God. Yes, there are many ways in which you are not like God. And, yes, sin has tarnished your resemblance to God. And, yes, being like God does not mean that you are a “little god,” as is sometimes claimed by trendy gurus. Still, in a fundamental and profound way, you are like God. You bear God’s own image and likeness. This, I would suggest, is an astounding likeness, even a life-changing one if you allow it to shape your sense of identity and to guide the way you live.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Have you ever had the experience of hearing that you are like a person for whom you have great admiration? How did you feel? In what ways are you like that person? When you consider the fact that you are like God, what comes to mind? How might this truth matter to you today?
Gracious God, sometimes I am so caught up in my failures, in all the ways I am not like you, that I neglect the deeper truth, the earlier truth of Genesis 1. You have made me, as a human being, in your image and likeness. I am like you in a profound and abiding way. Amazing!
Lord, as I consider this truth, help me not to get puffed up, or to think of myself more highly than I ought, or to start acting as if I am a god. Yet, may I take seriously my likeness to you. May this truth shape my sense of identity and my purpose. May it help me to live faithfully in response to your intentions for my life. 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.