Well, for a start, if we are truly made in God’s image we couldn’t have evolved from monkeys, could we? And it doesn’t matter if we share DNA with other creatures either, because if God only made humans in his image then we are unique, a creature like no other.
That being the case, it’s worth a good look at what we’re made of, because if we’ve been equipped with stuff that no other creature in the world has, then there must be some purpose to it.
But how do you figure out what that purpose is when school doesn’t teach it? All through my school years I had no idea what my purpose in life was, other than sit for hours in dreary classes and do hours of hated homework so that one day my education would provide me with a decent job. My curiosity and imagination were hardly stirred at all. I learnt a lot about what the world was like, but never why it came into existence. And I learnt a lot about how my body worked too, but never why I had such a body in the first place.
And going to church every week didn’t help much either. I can’t remember ever having it explained to me, in terms that set my curiosity and imagination on fire, why this planet existed – and why we were the only one creature on the planet that wanted to know why too.
What did fire me up was wondering what this amazing planet could end up looking like if we humans weren’t so stupid. What if our minds were rewired so they were more in sync with what God had in mind for us? Or put another way, what if we acted like the image of God that we are?
Well, if I’m reading Genesis right, God gave a human the chance to do just that. And with no distractions either, like fretting about one’s self image, and exploiting human weakness to make money. It was just a raw human starting from scratch with absolutely no idea what the planet or his own amazing body and mind were for.
And God didn’t hit this fortunate human right away with religion either. There was no mention of heaven and hell, no talk about building churches, or trying to figure out how God could be a trinity. God simply said, “The world is yours; take care of it.”
And God never said that to a chimpanzee, despite it sharing 99% of a human’s DNA. The chimp would have to put up with being a chimp for the rest of its days, but to the human God explained face to face that everything this planet contained was for humans and their children to discover and develop, while God provided the guidance, the food supply, an exquisite garden at the junction of four rivers to live in, and the water to make things grow.
I wish I’d been that human, because the first thing I’d notice was all the luscious fruits hanging from the trees. But God then explained what he’d put that human in this exquisite garden for. It was to see what it would produce when cared for. And to help the human in his quest God also provided animals that could be domesticated and the most beautiful, wonderful creation of all, a woman, who would be the man’s equal and marvellous companion to share his quest with.
And there it stretched before them, a world of staggering variety in plant, animal, bird and insect, liberally sprinkled with precious metals, jewels and perfumes. What, in the care of a human sharing God’s image and nature, would this planet then reveal?
Well, we never got the chance to find out, did we? Adam and Eve got really stupid and chose what a snake oil salesman offered instead. And humans have done the same thing ever since.
But one day, the Bible says, and a lot said about it too, we get a second chance to see what this planet is made of under the care of humans who realize they’re made in God’s image and start acting like it. It will take a thorough rewiring job on our brains to get us to the point, but God’s been taking care of that too.
I wonder, then, what is in store for us when we have bodies that never die and we’ve got minds that love this planet as much as God does. But isn’t that why God gave us curiosity and imagination when he made us in his image? It’s to fire us up now for what he has in mind for eternity.