What is man? Especially when compared to an all powerful Creator?
It is a question asked by David some three thousand years ago in the Psalms. David wrote, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.” (Psalms 8:3-5)
When one considers the vastness of the cosmos and then the magnitude of the Being who called such a thing into being with but a word and a thought, we should be humbled by the very idea that God has indeed been mindful of us.
David continues, noting, “You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen — even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalms 8:6-9)
Not only did God fashion us, and visit us, but He has blessed us as no other creature in all of creation with dominion, glory and honor? What is man that God should be so mindful of us?
In the book of Genesis, as we read concerning the creation, we hear God say, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26) We then read, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
We should not think that being made in the image of God is a matter of physical characteristics, such as eye color, possessing hands, hair, or any such thing. Jesus, who knew the Father, having come from the Father, said of God, “God is spirit.” (John 4:24a) And the apostle Paul noted, “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.” (Acts 17:29) We can make statues of men, but we cannot make a statue of God, for He is spirit.
Our relationship to the nature of God then is not physical but metaphysical. Elsewhere it is noted, “what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” (Romans 1:19) There are qualities which God possesses which are manifest within men.
What are some of these qualities?
We might note the creative nature of man: we are driven to create and build, following in the very footsteps of the Creator. No other creature has such a creative drive in all the earth. Also we can witness the ability of men to show love and practice righteousness. There is a higher understanding native to man which no animal possesses. Only men know right from wrong and the very existence of morality within men is a powerful evidence for the God who instilled the conscience within us.
What is man?
We are, in short, the children of God, fashioned in His image and we can know that God loves us above all the world. We can also know that God has high expectations for us and it breaks His divine heart when we do not live up to our potential. Thus when the Scriptures contemplate sin, we note that they say, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) If it is God’s image we are made in, then it is God’s glory and righteousness we should seek. As the apostle Peter once noted, we have a responsibility to aim higher. “Be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-15)
God expects great things of His children and through His grace and the salvation of Christ, we can achieve those things.
At the Church of Christ, we invite you to serve and worship God with us. Won’t you please join us for worship and study at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.