When we try to conjure up an image of God, we often picture Michelangelo’s painting of “God The Father” from the Sistine Chapel, don’t we? You know the one – the long grey beard, the muscular build, the resolute face, the outstretched arm and ominous pointing finger. I’ve reached a point in my life where this is not what I envision when I imagine God. This God looks too much like I look when I’m angry (except I must admit, I am not that muscular and I have less hair). I see this picture as God created “in our image” rather than the other way around. Didn’t God create man in HIS image? And what does that even mean anyway?
Humanity & Ants!
I’ve pondered, prayed and meditated about this for a while. As a result I’ve been led to investigate what makes humanity different from everything else in creation. Perhaps this is where one just might find God’s “real” image. So, what makes us different? I’m an engineer by trade. I like to look at design and skill sets. From this perspective it’s obvious that, as humans, we’re pretty organized, creative, builders of great cities, etc. But then again, so are ants! Not to be sarcastic, but seriously, look at the creativity, architecture, structural engineering, construction effort, and political/social hierarchy it takes for ants to build their colonies. All these attributes are created in them; they simply act instinctively. So, while amazing, I’m not convinced this is what “in God’s image” means completely.
The one thing that I’ve seen that separates us from everything else in creation is the ability to love. Oh sure, your puppy cuddles up with you, so he must love you, right? All fine and good, but sorry, that’s probably not love. You feed him, you pet him, you clean up after him and, more importantly, you’re soft and warm. Maybe your puppy just knows where to go to get what he needs. Maybe we could learn a thing or two from your puppy, and maybe we feel love from our pets because we project that ability onto them – because we have the capacity not only to be loved, but to be loving.
Of course, I’m not the first one to come up with this. I’ll credit my source and avoid any suspicion of plagiarism. The Apostle John, a good friend of Jesus, noted that “God is love.” “IS” love… As in – if God were made of some type of matter, love would be that matter. As in – if God has DNA, then love would be that DNA.
I Love Metaphors!
I love metaphors and love the fact that Jesus often communicated using the metaphorical with parables. I believe that metaphors help us to understand things that may otherwise not be understandable. I use them with my kids all the time, taking examples from their lives as metaphors for concepts they have yet to experience. More on this to come soon with “God’s DNA – Part Two.” But until then, think about this: If we love because he first loved us, could it be possible it’s the image we’re created in that makes this possible?