In God’s image: made for community

After God had created Adam and placed him in the garden, his work of creation was still not complete.   God had given Adam a beautiful place to live and work to do, but Adam still was not fulfilled.  God determined to provide a helper, a companion, a partner for Adam.  God brought each of the animals to Adam and he gave them all names, but none of them proved to be a suitable companion for Adam.   That was when God made Eve, the first woman, from Adam’s rib.

This beautiful story conveys several profound truths about our created nature as humans.

First, we are distinct from animals even though we share certain characteristics with them.   In my previous post I looked at the uniquely human trait of creativity.   Some evolutionary biologists and philosophers would have us believe that there is no difference in value or significance between a person and an animal, but the Bible declares without apology the unique nature and value of human life.   I’ll develop this point mure fully in a future post.

Second, man and woman are designed and intended for each other.  It is abundantly clear from the Genesis account that the partnership between man and woman, including sexuality, is an essential feature of God’s plan for creation.   More on this in a future post as well.

Third, we are made for community in a more general sense.  Although the statement “it is not good for the man to be alone” applies first to Adam’s need for his partner Eve, it also has a broader reference.  Throughout the Bible we can see that God places people in families, communities, tribes and nations.  This is no accident – it reflects the way His Kingdom is ordered, along relational lines.

Anyone can see that we need others for all kinds of practical reasons.  Other people possess skills and abilities on which our life depends.  Doctors, nurses, teachers, gas station attendants, grocery clerks, computer programmers and many others all perform functions that I can’t do without.   This has always been true, even in the simplest forms of human society.

But our need for community goes deeper than this.  We need community for more than just survival.  We can’t discover our true identity or destiny on our own.  We need others to complete us, to help us grow, to force us to grow up.   Where did I learn how to forgive, how to conquer sin, how to love, how to pray?   In community.

Then God said “Let us make man in our image, in  our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).   The Hebrew word for God (Elohim) is a plural word.   This is no accident!  God is one, but God is also a community – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.   The Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.   The Son honours the Father and willingly gives his life to accomplish the Father’s purposes.   The Spirit exists to brings glory to the Son.   Our need for community is a reflection of our creation in the image of God.   That’s why growth in love is one of the key evidences that we are truly reborn.

Father, may it be so in my life.   May my life increasingly reflect your love and goodness.  Help me to appreciate the people around me and to see, honour and call forth Your image in each one.