Made In the Likeness of God…

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“When God made man, he made him in the likeness of God” (Genesis 5:1). This is the truth we must come to grips with in our faith lives. To understand what the Spirit is revealing to us here has everything to do with how we understand ourselves and all others. If we come to truly understand and believe this truth with our whole being, the way we view the world, all of our relationships, and everything else, will be changed forever. Everything will have an entirely new, and more profound meaning for us. It will profoundly affect the way we live our practical, daily lives.

We need to look to Jesus to aid us in our efforts to understand this idea that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. He is the light of the world and it is by his light that we are able to see ourselves as we are and as we are intended to be. Our challenge is to grow toward the true humanity that we see in Jesus. We know this because of the commandment he gave to us: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). In his perfect, sinless humanity, he commanded us to do as he did. He would not have said this to us, if he believed us incapable of it. When he let go of divinity and became man, he did not diminish his divinity, rather, he raised our humanity to its perfection, to what it was intended to be.

The truth is that we are not as fully human as we are intended to be. This is because we are all too often caught up in our sinfulness. We must respond to Jesus’ saving acts of his suffering, death, and resurrection by choosing to do his will more and more often, by choosing to turn away from the sea of lies and passions that is the world. “The creative and mysterious inner self must be delivered from the wasteful, hedonistic, and destructive ego that seeks only to cover itself with disguises” (Thomas Merton). In order to grow toward the humanity we see in Jesus, we need to return to our inviolate and eternal reality, that is, the image and likeness of God that we are made in. This is the challenge of every Christian.

The Apostle Paul reiterates this to us in his letter to the Colossians: “You have put on the new self, which is being renewed for knowledge, in the image of its creator” (Col. 3:10). At our baptisms, we put on this new self. When we were baptized, we received God’s grace enabling us to enter into this lifelong journey toward our full humanity, that is, that perfect humanity that God intended for us in making us in his own image. God has given us intellect and will to come to know him, to love him, and to serve him in this world. It is in coming to know Jesus more personally and more intimately, through our prayer lives, our study of holy scripture, and by our regular attendance at our church communities, that we gain the wisdom and the further graces that will strengthen us and empower us in this effort to grow into our God-given humanity.

Father, we are profoundly humbled by this thought that you have made us in your own image. We believe this, but we also know our weakness and the selfish force of our own egos. Yet, we know, too, that you love us and remain faithful to us, even when we fall short of our intended humanity. Help us, Lord, in this effort to become what you intended us to be. Help us to keep our eyes on Jesus in all that we do. We pray these things in the name of Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.