Michelangelo – Public Domain
Genesis begins with a simple phrase in English: “In the beginning God . . . .” How often do we ponder this starting point? In the biblical narrative it continues on to explain the sequence of creation. Before all of it, however, God existed. “At the creation, God created . . .” is one rendering of the Hebrew. He was pre-existent.
As the Creator, He is the cosmological cause of each of us. He has made us, not we ourselves. Most theists (and people of faith more generally) will except this as a obvious truth. Our physical forms are “inherited” from the long sequence of reproduction which begun with “In the beginning.”
We are not so forthcoming in our “making of ourselves” in spiritual, and social terms. Think about the term: “self-made man/woman.” The achievements and accomplishments are attributed to the hard work and talents of the individual, not to some divine plan. We set our minds on a course, and off we go. Or do we?
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:26-27).” Even is the rule and mastery humanity has shown over the creation, it was tasked to them by god. It was a destiny set by God, not one of our creation. So why should it be any less so in our individual lives?
Our purposes have a starting point: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29). We are to be conformed to Jesus’ image. Put simply to be Christ-like. Yet Jesus was not one to do His own thing – to fly after any or every fancy. Nor was he dictated by ego. John 5:30 says in part, records Jesus’ words, “for I seek not my will, but the will of him that sent me.” Again at Gethsemane, Jesus said, “Father, all things are possible to thee, take away this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done (Mark 14:36).”
If we are truly conformed to God’s will – if we are Christ-like, we should be seeking what is good for His purposes, not what strokes our egos. Let us test our motives. Are we striving to be in God’s image, or are we trying to force His purposes into our wills. Are we like some Medieval artist making God in the image of man, not man in the image of God?