In the Image of God
It's been said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. My oldest son, Adin, is currently two and a half years old. He enjoys imitating the behavior of others. It is fun to watch him pretend, especially when he imitates me. He loves to drag a chair behind the podium, stand on it, and "preach a sermon." When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he consistently responds: "A preacher, like Daddy."

If you have children, would you want them to grow up to be like you? Many would say "yes." Some would say "no." All loving parents would affirm that they would like for their children to have their strengths but not their weaknesses. Most children will end up with many similarities to their parents because of nature and nurture. Physically, children are generally very much like their parents due to genetics. Spiritually, children are also typically similar to their parents, due to the way they are raised. Parents, whether they intend to or not, are continually teaching their children about morality, values, and religion. Though it is not a certainty, children typically end up in the likeness of their parents.

God said in Genesis 1:26 - "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." Almighty God created us, human beings, in His image or likeness. But what exactly does that mean? Well, God is a spirit being (John 4:24). He does not have a physical body as we do. Thus, to be made in His image has nothing to do with our physical form. I believe we are made in God's image in the sense that we too are spirit beings. There is much more to our existence that our current physical, corruptible bodies. Additionally, I believe we are like God in the sense that we possess personality and the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Other animals do not have this ability. They act out of instinct to survive. A dog does not feel remorse when he steals a bone from another canine. Some might argue that animals possess personality, but such is not true. Personality requires emotion, intellect, and willpower. Animals do possess intellect, and perhaps some level of emotion, but they do not possess willpower. We'll talk more about personality tomorrow.

Perhaps you are wondering: if God created us in His image, why are there so many wicked people in the world, people who don't seem to resemble the Lord in any form? The answer: free will. Let me explain. If my son Adin ended up being a preacher, would I be pleased? Indeed, and I plan to continue encouraging him in that direction. Of course, I have no intention of forcing him to become a gospel preacher. He will have to make his own decisions regarding what he wants to do with his adult life. He has free will. All I can do is try to rear him to fear the Lord and seek righteousness. I cannot make him become a preacher. I cannot even make him become a faithful Christian, for that matter. I love him dearly, but he will have to make his own decisions ultimately. It is the same way with all of us. God loves us dearly--so much so that He has made us like Him and provided a way for us to be cleansed of sin, at great cost to Himself. Yet, He will not force His will upon us in this realm. He allows us to choose whether or not we want to serve Him or ourselves. Of course, He desires us to live for Him and to be like Him (cf. I Cor. 11:1), but He respects the free will He has given us (though there will be eternal consequences for those who choose to rebel against His will in this life).

Friends, as human beings, we are made in God's image in the sense that we possess personality and are spiritual beings. Every one of us is special to the Lord. He has flattered us by making us like Him. Let's commit ourselves to following or imitating Him to the best of our ability. There is no better way to live.