Saturday Short Thought: Image of God

This week I’ve been blogging about the inherent relational connections in the preaching event.  I have just finished writing notes for a session on the Life of the Preacher (more than a bit about relationships in that!), and today am looking forward to a reunion of last year’s Cor Deo team, along with this year’s team.  There is a theme here!

And yet the preaching ministry is often such a lonely one.  While I understand all the dynamics that can make it so, I have to say that it is incredibly inconsistent with the gospel we preach.  This week I was in a conversation where the image of God was raised.  This is often defined anachronistically by imposing a much later philosophical anthropology onto the notion, resulting in the image of God being seen to mean our unique ability among God’s creatures to think abstractly, choose freely and rule as we see fit in our independence.  But is the image of God really and primarily about our cognitive faculty and self-directed will?  Is that really what God is like in Himself?

Looking at the text in context, it is clear that a major feature of the image of God must be some aspect of relationality.  The “let us” language, the male and female, the unity in diversity, even the dominion elements seem to be more about a loving care than a sharp powerful domination.  The Bible, from that point on, from cover to cover seems to support a relational core to what it is to be made as human in God’s image.

Looking at our world today, we see that relationality is so important, even to those who deny it with every fibre of their being and action of their life.  People sacrifice family on the altar of career advancement, achieve all their life goals and then drink themselves into oblivion because they have nobody to share the triumph with.  Maybe our relationships should feature more on our CV’s than merely a token reference or two at the end.

So as preacher’s of God’s Word, let’s be sure to not impose cultural or philosophical values onto the text of Scripture.  More than that, let’s be sure to let the biblical emphasis on relationality mark our lives and ministries.  Let us not contradict by our lives the truths we preach with our lips.

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