Sometimes the Bible’s biggest ideas are hard to grasp.
First Corinthians 13 speaks of love being patient, kind, and not easily angered. But for someone who has been hurt, this can seem near impossible.
Psalm 37:7 tells us God’s love never fails. But for a grieving parent, those words may feel hard to believe.
In The Good Book: 40 Chapters That Reveal the Bible’s Biggest Ideas, free this month on Faithlife Ebooks, Deron Spoo explains the context and content of the Bible to connect the Bible’s biggest ideas in a way that is simple and easy to understand. In this excerpt, Spoo invites readers to see God’s divine hand in one of those big ideas—the creation of human beings in his image in Genesis 1.
You’re More Like God Than You Think — Genesis 1
God’s creation is vast. Imagine holding an atlas of the universe in your lap. Each page contains a picture of a single galaxy, some spiraled, others elliptical, still others irregular—all of them stunning. You flip through your universal atlas at the rate of one page every second. To go from cover to cover would require approximately ten thousand years.
God’s creation also contains variety. When God created trees, he didn’t merely create one kind of tree. In the Amazon jungle alone, there are thousands of known species of trees.
The only word that comes close to describing the fullness of God’s creative genius is majestic. In its majesty, all of creation mirrors something of its Creator. A whale can communicate with other whales via a low-frequency hum. Two whales are capable of carrying on a conversation even when they’re separated by hundreds and perhaps thousands of miles of water. Indeed, majesty does come to mind. And residing atop the majesty scale is humanity—you and me.
As you read Genesis 1, notice the rhythm and order of creation. There’s a beautiful arrangement and symmetry to God’s creative activity. What he formed in the first three days, he correspondingly filled in the three days that followed. Day 1 found him creating light and dark.
On day 4 he filled what he formed with sun, stars, moon, and meteors. On day 2 God formed the sky and sea, followed by filling creation with birds and fish on day 5. Day 3 witnessed God forming land and then populating it with all sorts of creatures on day 6. Forming and filling.
Included in day 6 was creating human beings. God started simple, creating light and darkness, but his formations became increasingly complex as his creative activity continued. God culminated with the creation of humanity, his most intricate invention.
Genesis 1 is clear: the pinnacle of God’s creative work was man and woman. In God’s eyes, nothing in the created order was more impressive. Nothing else could serve as the ultimate fruit of his forming power. Genesis 1:27 offers this observation: “So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.”
What could it mean to be made in the image of God? Thinkers and theologians have wrestled with this question for centuries.
Here’s a small example. Though I love my children equally, I have a unique relationship with my son Seth. In many ways—body build, attitude, humor, and appearance—Seth captures my essence in his smaller form. Sometimes I can almost read his thoughts. You could say that he bears my image.
So it is between God and human beings. We bear his image in our smaller frames. Internally we resemble him because we have a spirit and God is spirit. We’re more than mere physical beings. This spiritual element (or soul, if you prefer) may be invisible, but it exists nonetheless.
Externally we bear God’s image because of our capacity to experience relationships. That reflects God’s own desire to be in relationship with us. We have a built-in need and desire to relate to God and other humans because we were created in his image. That’s what allows us to enjoy intimacy with him.
Many people wonder whether Adam and Eve were the only people God directly created. In later chapters of the Bible, their descendants went off and met other people east of Eden. Where did these people come from?
All history is selective. No history book in the world could possibly record every event surrounding a given historical occurrence. Likewise, the Bible is selective. But we trust that even though its content is selective, it’s also significant. God shared the people and events that would lead us to a better understanding of him.
Genesis 1 reveals two essential truths about who you are. First, you are not an accident. You are not the result of cosmic chance; you’re an intentional and individual creation of God. Second, God created you as an act of love. God is far from indifferent when it concerns you.
We share ourselves with only those we care about. Just as we share ourselves with only those we care about, God shared the best part of himself with you and me. Nothing else in all creation can make this claim.
So relish this life, knowing that when God sees you, he can’t help but see a reflection and resemblance of himself.
Also be sure to check out the 8-week The Good Book Participant’s Guide—full of questions for reflection and discussion and perfect for small groups and Sunday School classes. And for those with children, the kid-centric The Good Book for Kids (ages 8–12) draws young readers into God’s Word, encourages personal application, and provides great discussion starters for families.