What Is More Like God Than Anything Else In Creation?

When I was growing up, our family had an acquaintance named Ginger. Ginger was a petite, happy, friendly woman who laughed a lot. We liked her personality and enjoyed her company, and I don’t remember anyone ever quarreling with Ginger – she was just too nice. But there was more than her niceness holding us back from picking on Ginger. There was one fact about her that overshadowed every other part of her personality: Ginger was a black belt. She held at least one, possibly two, black belts in martial arts and competed nationally in jujitsu tournaments. Once you’d seen Ginger demolish a punching bag or flatten a sparring partner in the blink of an eye, it was hard to get the image out of your mind. It would have been a bad idea to make Ginger mad. One fact about her – her crazy skills at kicking tail – defined her in our eyes.

We all do that. (Not the kicking tail part.) We all are prone to defining people by a certain trait, characteristic, strength, or weakness. In every relationship you have, something is informing, coloring, and defining your view of a person. But here’s the question: do you define people in the same way God does?

In God’s eyes, the defining mark of every human being can be summed up in one phrase: made in the image of God. That’s the clear teaching of Genesis 1:27:

Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

James also picks up the theme in the New Testament when he condemns destructive speech of our brothers, “people who are made in the likeness of God” (James 3:9). So then, what does it mean to be created in the image of God? Theologians have debated the nuances of this point for centuries, but for our purposes I think we can summarize it like this: human beings are more like God than any other part of creation.

Does that surprise you? If you want to have some idea what God is like, relate to a human being. Your spouse, your child, your neighbor – yes, even your enemy – is more like God than any other created being in the universe. Yes, we are tainted by sin, and that hideously corrupts our likeness to God. But sin does not destroy the image of God in us completely. In Calvin’s language, we are like ruined, defaced statues – but we remain statues. Or, as Tolkien wrote:

Though now long estranged,

Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed,

Disgraced he may be, yet he is not dethroned

And keeps the rags of lordship once he owned.

Do you see humans as God sees them? Do you see in the tattooed, long-haired, piercing-covered biker on the corner someone to hide your children from…or someone made in the image of God? When your spouse wants to handle something so totally different than you would, do you secretly think Why aren’t you more like me?…or do you see in those differences an echo of the God who cannot be contained in any one human personality?

Everywhere we look, you and I are surrounded by human beings made in God’s image. This needs to be the defining factor in the way we view every person we encounter. We’re going to explore this more in another post. For now just pause and consider this: the person in the cubicle next to you, the person who sleeps beside you, and the child who greets you at the end of the day are each more like God than even the angels. Pause, consider…and marvel. We are made in the image of God.

My Wife Isn’t Just My Helper, She Is My Reinforcements

Many people cringe when they hear Christians talk about the wife as the “helper” of the husband. It sounds so demeaning, as if the wife is nothing more than a ballboy for a football team, or a servant in a king’s castle. The wife as “helper” sounds like something out of Leave It To Beaver. But if we cringe it’s because we don’t really understand what is behind the word “helper”.

In the book The Meaning of Marriage, Kathy Keller (Tim Keller’s wife) explains the glorious meaning behind the word “helper”:

“Helper” connotes merely assisting someone who could do the task almost as well without help. But ’ezer [the Hebrew word translated as ‘helper’] is almost always used in the Bible to describe God himself. Other times it is used to describe military help, such as reinforcements, without which a battle would be lost. To “help” someone, then, is to make up what is lacking in him with your strength. Woman was made to be a “strong helper.”

Jen is my helper in the same way that way Gandalf was the “helper” in the battle of Helm’s Deep (sorry, nerd reference). The battle of Helm’s Deep was lost until Gandalf arrived on the scene with reinforcements.

I cannot win the battle of life without Jen. I cannot fully glorify God without Jen’s help. I cannot walk in all the good works God has for me apart from Jen’s help. Yes Jen is my helper, just like a receiver is the “helper” of the quarterback. Neither one of us can fulfill our God-given responsibilities without the other.

Husbands, don’t look down on your wife because she is your helper. She is your reinforcements, and you can’t win the battle without her. Wives, don’t feel inferior because of your God-given title of “helper”. Us husbands can’t survive without your help.

The Image of God In A Gender Neutral World

Steve Russel/Toronto Star/Get Stock

Baby Storm is a boy. Or a girl. No one except the parents, siblings, and grandparents know.

Kathy Witterick and David Stocker have decided to raise their child, named “Storm”, in a gender free environment. In other words, they don’t want Storm to be influenced by cultural stereotypes of what it means to be a boy or a girl. They want Storm to have the freedom to create his/her own gender identity apart from all the cultural ideas of what gender really means. They are taking a bold stand for freedom in an age of gender restriction.

Is this a problem, and if so, why? After all, even most Christians would agree that our culture has unbiblical standards of what it means to be a man or a woman. I don’t want our culture instructing my daughters on the meaning of femininity. So is it really such a bad idea to raise a child in a gender free environment?

To answer that question I find Genesis 1:27 helpful:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

God could have created a race of sexless, genderless beings who all reflected God’s image in exactly the same way. But he didn’t. He created us in his image AND he created us male and female. That second part is so crucial. God created women to reflect God’s image and glory in ways that men never can. God created men to reflect God’s image in ways that women never can. We cannot be gender neutral people.

God intends men to display his image throughout the earth in masculine God-honoring ways. He intends women to display his image throughout the earth in feminine God-honoring ways. Men are called to take dominion over the earth in masculine ways and women are intended to take dominion over the earth in feminine ways.

I can’t image God the way my wife Jen can. She can’t image God the way I can. This is a wonderful, glorious thing, and it shows just how wise God is. There is a divine interdependence between men and women. Neither one can fully display the image of God on their own. Both need each other.

The reason that gender matters is because God cares very much about his image. We don’t get to decide what it means to be a man or a woman. God decides that. He has created us to display his image throughout the world, and when we distort masculinity and femininity we actually distort the image of God.

Do we need to avoid certain cultural stereotypes about what it means to be a man or a woman? Of course. But that doesn’t mean that we abandon the idea of gender altogether. Because God cares about gender. A lot.