Summary: God's desire for us is to have relationships where we are accepted, supported, have significance and purpose.
Working the Garden: Interdependent Foundations and Recovering the Image of God
Series: Doing Life: Relationship Skills from the Bible for Today
April 25, 2010
Last week I introduced our new series topic which will take us until June, which I’ve decided to call “Doing Life: Relationship Skills from the Bible for Today”. The basis is that if we are to experience the kind of life that Jesus desires for us, the “life abundant” of John 10:10, then we have to be in healthy relationships with God and with others. When we study Scripture, we see a lot of teaching about relationships; their importance, ways to be in relationships in healthy and unhealthy ways, even direct commandments about how we are to live together. I really believe that at the heart of Scripture and at the heart of God’s desire for us is a network of relationships in which we know acceptance, support, purpose, significance, and the joy of experiencing the positive impact that our lives can have on others. But how do we get there? That is what we are going to look at together for the next little while…
Let’s take a look at some foundations first, going way back to Genesis 1:26-27: “26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
27 So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
The very first thing to notice in the first verse is that God is not an individual. God doesn’t say “I’M going to make human beings like ME”, God says “Let US make human beings in OUR image, to be like US”. This is a critical foundation – God exists in relationship, and then creates humanity in that image. It sounds simple, but it is actually incredibly significant and incredibly profound. This is one of the basis for our understanding of the whole idea of God as three Persons in One, and our whole understanding next that for these three Persons to be One God there must be complete unity, interdependence, harmony, cooperation, and above all a love that is all the best that we can hope to imagine. God exists in relationship. And then we follow that with our understanding that God created us in that image… in other words, God created us to exist in that same context of unity, interdependence, harmony, cooperation, and above all a love that is the best we can hope to imagine. THAT, my friends, is what we were created for, and that is what verse 27 makes clear to us. This verse of Hebrew poetry puts “the image of God” in parallel with “male and female”, which tells us that God sees these two things as deeply inter-connected.
Now, I am not going to get diverted into a lengthily theological discussion on what the “image of God” actually is – this has been a long running topic of interest among academics which has enjoyed a resurgence recently as the church recognizes a shift from the centre of our culture to the margins, and so attempts to re-establish our mission and ultimate purpose as people which gets brought back to recapturing the “image of God”. If you are interested in that type of intellectual pursuit, I wholeheartedly encourage you. But for today, let’s simply take the verse at what it says – the “image of God” is deeply interconnected with the idea of “male and female”, which at the very least (most simple) means it is about relationship and not about anything individual.