Image-bearer Word on the Week 7th March 2020.
Some of us were at a conference this week when the speaker reminded us of the unbeliever’s slogan “God is Dead”. He traced this rebellion to its conclusion where those made in God’s image are also dead. This deadness extinguished the spiritual in man and presented us as a higher form of animal.
Today we have reached the notion that mankind is a blank slate! We evolved from a combustion of gases and by accident became what we are. We write on the slate our own choice of identity which is travelling through a meaningless life to its end. We are – then, one day, we aren’t!
Over 100 years ago the poet W E Henley penned ‘Invictus’ (Latin for unconquered) the last lines of which sum up the heroic man, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul”. In the 21st century this quest for self-determination tries to map meaning onto life or in mental confusion find it within.
The Bible teaches that we are created in God’s image, “So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of god; he created them male and female” (Genesis Chapter 1 verses 26 to 26). This sense of ownership produces stability. As we come to know God we see the results of the fall in us. Like David in Psalm 32 we come to appreciate the blessedness of admitting sins and requiring forgiveness.
The state of Israel was to bear the image of God to the surrounding nations. They, like us, were chronic command breakers preventing the nations from seeing how a nation under God should live. The remedy was for God to “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts” (Jeremiah Chapter 31 verse 33). This New Covenant was inaugurated by Jesus at the Last Supper as an abiding symbol of His work on the cross.
Thousands were converted to Christ through the work of the Apostles who were empowered by the Holy Spirit. Even those antagonistic to the gospel were converted. It was said of St Paul “The one who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy” (Galatians Chapter 1 verse 23).
And this faith that St Paul preached caused repentant sinners to be born from above into a new life in the here and hereafter. “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you…” (1 Peter Chapter 1 verses 3 to 4).