They were powerful words that commissioned the climax of the creation account, “Let us make man in our image.” (Gen 1:26) It was at this point, God breathed life into dirt, and the image bearer of God walked through creation. Humanity was meant to uniquely display God’s glory, bearing an image to which the rest of creation only testified.
All was well until the moment of deception when they ate of the fruit. Bearing the image of God was no longer the desire of their heart. As the serpent enticed, the lie became more believable – perhaps they could be like God (Gen 3:5). With straying affections that led to an act of disobedience, sin marred the image of God in man. Guilty of and broken by sin, mankind was removed from the garden.
Bearing an Image
A small glass hammer sits on a shelf in my office. Though it looks a little abstract, it was the best glass hammer I could find. When most people look at it, they can tell it is a hammer, but they also clearly see it is not something one might buy at the local hardware store. There would be consequences in using the glass hammer in the same manner as the one in my toolbox. To remove it from the shelf and strike it against anything would prove destructive – not for the object, but the glass hammer. Made of glass and of little physical use, the object on my shelf merely bears the image of a hammer.
This hammer stays in my office to remind me of Genesis 3. Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, the image of God is restored from one degree of glory to the next (2 Cor 3:18). I am a work in progress that God is faithful to complete (Phil. 1:6). Though this is a great promise, I also struggle with the same desires as Adam and Eve. Sin wells up within as I begin to be dissatisfied as an image bearer and seek to be God.
When we think of someone trying to be like God, we picture a prideful and controlling attitude. They may be domineering, wanting everything done their way. We may even use this idea when thinking of a “know-it-all” or narcissist. In using these mental pictures, we are often comforted because we create a scenario that does not resemble us.
A desire to be God, or act like God, most often takes place in our rebellion against his Word and his working in our lives. When we walk outside of the parameters God designed for us, by default, we try to take his place. We act as if our knowledge is more excellent than his and our desire is purer than his. We may not demand that people do what we say or try to control the lives of others. We dethrone the God of the universe to bow down to our own will.
We are not all-powerful, and our vision of life pails to the eternal perspective of God. We take matters into our own hands, following our indecisive hearts and minds. Walking in rebellion of God’s design and desire, we end up a shattered glass hammer. Not only are we broken, but we make a mess of everything around us. Shards of broken pieces and destruction replace the beauty and glory we are designed to bear.
The hammer sits on my shelf to remind me that God’s desire and design is better than my own. In times of doubt and struggle, I can trust what he is doing. He desires to do something more beautiful in me than I want for myself, and no matter what means he uses to accomplish his work, it will be what is best. He protects my soul and guides my path for his namesake. I am to be an image bearer, not a god.