Imaging God’s Glory to the Nations

Something inside of people is the image of God, which allows humanity to possess attributes which can only properly called God’s. For example, whatever God’s image is, it lets people receive glory from God. But this glory is not part of man’s constitution or something they merited; rather, the glory bestowed on man comes from being in the image of God.

To be in the image of God, then, means that people can image God in their day-to-day lives. So when God says “subdue” and “have dominion” over the earth (Gen 1:28), people image God by these functions. Of course, this happens only the context of relationships, so that the image of God belongs to both male and female (Gen 1:27), who unite to fulfill the purpose of imaging God on earth (Gen 2:24–25). Together, in relationship, males and females represent God. Because they received God’s glory (Ps 8:5), their mission receives the upmost dignity and honor.

Humanity’s mission is to subdue, dominate and fill the earth. Since they possess God’s glory, humanity’s mission can be summed up thus: As a pair, male and female, humans spread God’s glory[1] across the world as people fill it and create more children who bear God’s image and glory.

The reason why the so-called cultural mandate[2] exists so close to the image of God passage (1:28) is because God wanted his image, his nature, his person to be spread across the whole world. The proclamation and spread of God’s name and fame across all nations is therefore the purpose of humanity.

The only way this mission may be accomplished is through properly imaging God. This means people must image God in work, leisure and play. To do any of these functions incorrectly means failing the mission of spreading God’s glory across the globe.

A right view of leisure and play is no laughing matter, therefore, since an incorrect view of these things is sin. Put another way, thinking wrongly here means not imaging God’s glory across the world. In order to think rightly on these three concepts, one must see how the original couple images God in work, leisure and play. The fall of mankind into sin has changed how this occurs, and that theme will be explored afterwards.

Later this week, we will look at how God’s actions create a template for us to imitate. When we imitate God in these areas (e.g. work, liesure, & play), we glorify God by imaging him across the globe.

            [1] That is, to manifest God’s communicable attributes in response to whatever situation one finds oneself in. If agriculture causes a person grief in the tundra of northern Canada, then he should respond with the work ethic, patience, and care that God would. These actions are sourced in attributes such as the omnipotence of God, which humans receive in a derived sense (i.e. humans are potent but not omnipotent!).

            [2] Anthony A. Hoekema develops the idea of “cultural mandate”  and its various applications to agriculture, sciences and arts. See. Created in God’s Image (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 79–80.

*The background to this post: click here

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