The Imago Dei

All my life I believed there was nothing good in me – nothing worth redeeming. Recently I took that belief to God’s Word – back to Genesis and creation.  Please take a moment and read Genesis 1:26-27. Both verses record the creation of man in the image of God, the Imago Dei. What does that mean?

It means there was a certain essence of God imbued in man at the time of creation. It’s the very nature of humans, something we are rather than something we have or do.  Man was created as body, soul, and spirit.  It is within this trichotomy that we are unique from every other living creation. We have a body – a physical shell –. that houses the soul – the seat of reason and emotion. But what truly sets us apart from all the rest of creation is the spirit – the part where the most distinctive image of God is found: the Imago Dei. It is the spirit that enables us to commune with God.  Scholars and theologians have debated this for centuries. It is one of God’s great mysteries and we can only accept it and rejoice in it, for this image is what God sees in man that calls out to His heart for redemption.

God saw His image – the Imago Dei in me, and He pursued me. Me, who’s never been pursued in her life – and He drew me to His Son. He saved me through the cross of redemption, through the blood of Christ, and in saving me He imparted His Spirit to me, and His Spirit brought my spirit to life.  He brought Image and Spirit together to create a perfected being – (Perfect – teleioo – to perfect, complete, finish, to reach a goal, be fulfilled, made complete.)  He restored me to God’s original design – complete in Image and Spirit.

Now God sees in me His completed design. He does not see my faults and failings, my shortcomings, my weight, anxieties, character flaws, temper, or impurities. He only sees His Son. Because of Jesus, He sees a completed, beautiful and whole person. I don’t know what that means to you, but it means the world to me. In Christ, I am made complete. Beloved, this can be your testimony too. You were made in the image of God and the redemption of Jesus Christ is available to you – just receive this wonderful gift – it is given freely. Will you be complete in Christ?

Gifts Fit For a King

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“They opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh,” (Matthew 2:11)

What kind of gift do you bring to a newborn King? When royals or celebrities have babies, gifts pour in from all around the world. Lavish, expensive presents like giant stuffed animals, beautiful baby clothes, and the very latest in baby transportation. Only the best will do for these little ones of such high standing. When the wise men came to visit Jesus, they brought gifts worthy of a first-century king – gold, incense, and myrrh. Many scholars believe there is significance in each of these gifts: “Gold might represent His deity and purity, incense the fragrance of His life, and myrrh His sacrifice and death” (myrrh was used as an embalming spice) (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament).

I love the story of the little boy who, during the offering at church, set the plate on the floor and stood in it. His embarrassed mother pulled him back to his seat and  whispered “What are you doing?” He replied in a very loud voice, “But Mommy, I don’t gots no money, so I wanted to give Jesus myself!” Image the sermon that might have followed that! But our little friend is right on target. Just as the magi presented Jesus with gifts, the Bible tells us that we are to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God,” (Romans 12:1). In the first two verses of Romans 12, Paul tells us that our gifts to God are our bodies (v. 1) and our minds (v. 2) – what we do and how we think. In other words, we are to give every bit of ourselves to the Lord. Remember Jesus’ words about the great commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). This covers your affections, your emotions, your convictions, and your life-focus.  It’s total surrender. We love God by giving Him ourselves, inside and out. Beloved, let all of you be your gift to Jesus this Christmas.

What are You Looking For?

  • “Look to the Lord and His strength, seek His face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11)

    He stared into the open refrigerator for the third time in an hour. “What are you looking for son?” I asked. “I don’t know,” he answered “Something.”

    Something. We’re all looking for “something” and most of us don’t know what that something is. Like my son, we sense a lack, a hunger, a desire – but can’t quite put our finger on what will fill us. He eventually settled on a sandwich, but I knew he would be back before long, looking for “something” more.

    The craving of the soul is far more powerful than the craving of an empty stomach, and the world we live in offers a myriad of things to fill that aching hole. Some of us run after success and all the material things that go along with it – houses, cars, fine things and finer people, vacations in exotic places. For others, it is physical pleasure. This world overflows with sensual pleasures to feed the lustful nature; but lust can never be satisfied and the quest for pleasure becomes an insatiable appetite. Maybe it is power – the hand of authority and influence; or popularity, after all who doesn’t like to be liked? Many have turned to food in excess, or stuff – just piles and piles of stuff. Sadly many lose themselves to the numbing effects of drugs or alcohol.

    What is it we really want? What is it that our souls are desperately seeking? A simple statement by Saint Augustine of Hippo answers our questions: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”  It is God that we want. God our hearts crave. Because God created us and put His own image in us, our spirits yearn to be in fellowship with our Creator. That emptiness is meant to cause us to pursue God, but the world steps up with everything else and if we are not earnestly seeking Him we grab hold of what is set before us instead. We were not made for all these other things. We were made for God.

    David understood this. Listen to his words: “O God you are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for You in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1). David is on the run in the desert from the evil King Saul, who is seeking to take his life. He is thirsty and weary in the dry desert heat, and in his physical needs, he turns to God. Yes, he needs water and rest, but it is the ache in his soul that causes him to cry out to the Lord, to seek his God. Notice his is not just a passing prayer, but he is earnestly seeking, a passionate longing, a determined searching. The original Hebrew offers the image of foraging, like a starving animal seeking food to stay alive. That is the earnest seeking of a man who knows that only God can satisfy him, only God can fill the empty places. God is what David craves. God is what our own empty heart craves.

    What happens when we pursue God this way? Scripture is full of His promises to the earnest seeker. “Those who know Your name trust in You, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You” (Psalm 9:10) God is faithful to the one who seeks Him. “Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always” (Psalm 105:3-4). God promises joy and strength when we seek Him. “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him” (Lamentations 3:25). God pours out His goodness on those who seek Him. “This is what the Lord says to the house of Israel: ‘Seek me and live’” (Amos 5:4). God offers life to the one who seeks Him. Real life. Abundant life. Eternal life.

    The most precious promise to the seeking heart is found in Jeremiah 29:13 – “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Listen to the very next verse: “I will be found by you” (v. 14). God is inviting us to seek Him, and in the same breath promises to make Himself open and accessible to us. He said “I have not spoken in secret… I have not said…’seek me in vain’” (Isaiah 45:19). Your Creator doesn’t play a divine game of “hide and seek.” He says we can “seek and find.”

    God has been making Himself known since creation. He had made Himself visible in the world around us. Every tree and star and mountain testifies to Him. He had given us His Word, the Bible, and every page is telling the story of God and His love for you and me. As if that were not enough, He sent His Son, Jesus to walk among men and women and children, that we might be able to reach out and touch the very flesh of God, to see His face and hear His voice and – oh, hear this with your heart – to seek you.

    What are you looking for my friend? Listen to your aching heart. Hear the cries of your empty soul. It isn’t wealth or pleasure or power or things that you want. Deep within, you are longing for God, because you were made for Him. Seek Him, and you will find Him, because He has already found you.

     

    Holy Father, my Creator and God, ”You have said to my heart ‘Seek My face!’ Your face Lord, I will seek” (Psalm 27:8). Amen