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Worship Series: Genesis: Foundations of the Christian Faith
Worship Theme: Image of God
Lesson: Colossians 3:1-11 (EHV)
Gospel Lesson: John 3:16-21 (EHV)
Sermon Text: Genesis 1:26-28 (EHV)
Music: CW 195 Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty, All Praise to Him, CW 391 God Loved the World So that He Gave, All Glory to Our Lord and God (in worship folder)
Message Notes & Growth Group Questions
Message: Image of God: Our Relationship with God
Today we are in week two of a six week series called Genesis: Foundations of the Christian Faith. Last week we studied the truth of the Trinity. That our amazing Creator Lord is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We saw the relationship within the Godhead. Today, we shift our focus to the truth that mankind was created in the “Image of God” by seeing our relationship with God.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” In last week’s sermon you heard Elohim, the name used for God here in Genesis 1, is in the plural. But you don’t need to know Hebrew to see in this verse that plural nature, that three persons of God nature revealed in English. Did you catch it? God is talking. He refers to himself in the plural. “Let US make man in OUR image, in OUR likeness.” God is ONE God yet THREE distinct, individual persons.
Now, we want to see OUR relationship WITH this Holy Creator, Triune God. That truth is revealed when God said, “Let us make man in OUR IMAGE.” What does that mean? What image of God are we created in? The image of God isn’t our physical likeness. Some think, “Hey, we have head, torso, two arms, two legs. The image of God must mean God has head, torso, two arms, two legs.” That’s not the connection. Although God could look like that, it’s not the image of God we’re created in because when Adam and Eve sinned, they lost the image of God but looked the same.
And then there’s verse 27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” If the image of God is a physical likeness and God created both males and females from his image, from his physical likeness, then God would be both male and female in gender. But throughout the Bible and clearly here again in this verse, God only ever refers to himself in the masculine. God created mankind in HIS own image...HE created them. So, the image of God cannot, is not a physical image. The image of God that mankind was created in is a spiritual image. That’s why Adam and Eve lost the image of God when they sinned for they were no longer perfect.
In fact, when Adam and Eve had a son, the Bible was clear to point out in the first two verses of Genesis 5 that God created mankind in God’s perfect image, God’s perfect likeness. Then in verse three it says this about Adam, “He had a son in his own likeness, in his own image.” Not in God’s. Adam’s children, all children, you, me, we all are born into the sinful image of our parents. We are not born into God’s perfect image anymore. Our relationship with God was lost. Our job on this planet changed.
Something struck me this week reading over and studying this sermon text. I’ve used this verse probably close to a hundred times teaching the consequence of the fall into sin and how we lost the image of God and our perfect relationship with him this side of heaven. What jumped out at me this week is what follows the Biblical truth that we were originally created in God’s image. God made us perfect “so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
We were created to have a perfect relationship with God and with all the animals on this planet God created for us! Have you ever seen the video of a lion raised by a man who released it back into the wild? The lion actually ran up and jumped into the man’s arms and hugged him when they were reunited. That’s how God intended our relationship with animals to be. What now seems impossible for you to have a lion as a pet, for you to have a giraffe clean the gutters on your house, for you to play hide and go seek with a zebra or a chameleon, those were the ways God intended our relationship with animals to be—perfect, effortless, joyful—just as God intended our relationship with him to be—perfect, effortless, joyful.
Although we lost that personal, perfect relationship with animals, God uses animals to teach us truths about him. That’s what he said in the book of Job. “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you.” (Job 12:7) Job tells us to look at the birds to teach us just how much incredible effort and love God places into his creation. Okay, let’s do that. The hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world yet its wings beat 80 times a second. Its heart beats over a thousand times a minute. We get nervous if our body temperature goes over 100 degrees. The hummingbird’s body temperature will reach 143 degrees.
And how about that bald eagle! The bald eagle is the fastest creature in the air. At an elevation of 10,000 feet (about 2 miles), the eagle can see a cute little bunny in the forest and, within seconds, descend at a rate of over 100 mph and snatch it up for dinner. These are impressive animals.
Well, that’s great, pastor. Now I won’t have to watch National Geographic tonight. What do these impressive creatures have to do with God? For as much thought as God obviously put into making each of these wonderfully unique and inspiring creatures, for as wonderful and remarkable as they are; according to God, they have nothing on you. Scientists are infatuated with these animals. God is infatuated with you, so much so that he places these impressive beasts beneath you.
Consider how special God has made you. Your eye is a miracle. The retina is thinner than paper; yet its tiny surface contains 137 million light sensitive cells. If you were to build a computer that would mimic everything the eye does, just the microchip would weigh at least 100 pounds. I could go on to show how special God made you by talking about how your liver saves your life every day or how a single cell in your body is like its own little city. But we don’t have to. God himself made it clear: There is nothing more special to him in all creation than you. Of everything God could have chosen to save after the fall into sin, God chose only to save you.
The eagle has God as its creator, but not as its Father. The hummingbird has God as its maker, but not as its Savior. One day these animals will cease to exist. God wants to exist forever with you. It is why you are the only creature he has labeled the “crown of his creation,” and the only being in which he placed a soul at creation. But even though God values us so much more than the animals, there’s still something the animals know about God that we tend to forget—that you don’t need to worry about your life.
The book of Job says, “Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:9-10) Jesus himself described it this way: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear ... Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matthew 6:25,26)
Have you ever heard a bird complain that there won’t be enough seed for winter? Have you ever heard an eagle yelp that there isn’t enough food to be filled? Have you ever heard a bear complain that he won’t have enough fur to keep him warm through winter? No, you only hear the bird’s sweet song, the eagle’s confident caw, and the bear’s self-assured growl.
On the other hand, have you ever heard a teenager complain that there’s not enough food for dinner? Have you ever yelped about how your cupboards are too bare and money’s too tight? Have you ever looked in your closet full of clothes and thought to yourself, “I’ve got nothing to wear”? Have you ever worried that, someday, you won’t have a home; that, possibly, you’ll run out of food; that, maybe, God really won’t take care of you; that, it’s possible, because God’s let things get so bad in my life, God’s love isn’t as sure as the shining sun.
And if God can’t help you, then who? Well, then, I guess I have to take things into my own hands. I start cheating on my taxes a little just to get a bit more. And it’s ok, because ¾ of the country does it anyway. Or, I cut back a bit on my offerings. If God’s holding back from me, then shouldn’t I be able to do the same? Or, if my life doesn’t look good, then maybe I can at least feel good. I can drink my sorrows away, make myself forget about them for a day, trick my miraculous mind into believing that things are really ok. Or, I can pity myself, and get all sorts of people to pay attention to me because they feel sorry for me.
At the very least, you worry about today, about yesterday, and tomorrow, which is something you never see the animals do. Though they know they are less significant to God than you, and even though they don’t have storage sheds, silos, barns, bank accounts, retirement funds, IRAs, or money jars for rainy days, they never worry about today, tomorrow, or yesterday because somehow they know that God’s love for them, though it’s less than the love he has for you.
Did you know that eagles are not afraid of storms? In fact, the eagle will actually challenge a storm. He will walk right out into the middle of the storm, and he will look up to where he last saw the sun. The clouds, the lightning, the loud thunder won’t distract him. Why? Because he has his bearings set upon the sun. And when the storm becomes intense, he will fly directly into the storm clouds, break through them, so that the sun which is sitting above them can warm him.
Have your bearing set on the Son (S - O - N) and you will pass straight through the storms of this life. The lightening will flash around you and the thunder will crack but Christ will keep you safe! He keeps you safe by bearing you up upon the wings of his cross and he flies you through this life to the safety of heaven. But you must pass through life’s storms first. Learn from the eagle, and more importantly fly with the Son (his forgiveness and strength) and you will rise above the storms of this life.
How do you really know that God is going to be there for you through your storms? And why should he be? He has made you the crown of his creation and was willing to place a crown of thorns on his Son so that you might be able to be held forever in the palm of his hands!
Even through the storms God brings blessings. There’s a sign in my office that I want to show you. I was given this as a gift after helping a church member through a very difficult time in life. It serves as a reminder to me of just how faithful, just how loving, just how always present God is for me, even for me.
GOD DIDN’T PROMIST DAYS WITHOUT PAIN, LAUGHTER WITHOUT SORROW, NOR SUN WITHOUT RAIN. BUT HE DID PROMISE STRENGTH FOR THE DAY, COMFORT FOR THE TEARS AND LIGHT FOR THE WAY.
May the truth of its message give you peace and comfort! No matter what storm you are facing, God cares about you; he is bigger than that storm. God loves you; God created you to have a relationship with him. And you do! You always do! Amen.