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Created Imago Dei – to be creators
The Creation story talks of many things. We all too often approach it with our mindset and current 21st century worldview as an explanation of all things. While I think the story is weaving the foundation of what it means to be human, to be alive, to know God; I don’t think it’s intent is to explain how cells divided, or even that everything happened necessarily in a 7 day or 168 hours. The narrative is getting at something deeper, trying to name and relate why we are the way we are, how we are intended to find our place in creation….why things can seem both so beautiful and broken.
For me, the story asserts primarily that we – male and female – are created in the living image of God. Often we talk about that in terms of racial/ethnic diversity, differences in gifts and gender, as well as in terms of being called to life in community (like the three in one God). Imago Dei (the Latin for “in the image of God” is the theological term used for wonderings about this mighty passage. There are three principal ways theologians talk about this:
1. Substantive – that somehow we’re created of the same nature, or “stuff” as God.
2. Relational – the fact that we can be in intimate and complex relationships with others, and with God, reflects the divine nature imparted unto us, the way in which we are “like” God.
3. The third way is functional – God is first known as a creator God, so if we are in God’s image, then we too must be “creators”
For me I have to focus on the third way in my reading. I don’t think God is defined so much by the stuff he’s made of, as by the way that she is. According to Quantum Physics we’re all basically made of the same stardust. And in terms of relationships it seems to me that science lifts up other creatures also having complex relationships. Who am I to say that they don’t have a similar relationship with the Creator God as I can?
And so I’m left with the notion that we too are created to be creators. Undoubtedly not as great as THE Creator. Yet we do seem to have the power as human beings to create and destroy. We overlook, or underestimate our nature as creators when we view ourselves as insignificant. We narcissistically overestimate ourselves when we abuse, demean and destroy creation – rather than subdue it in stewardship (as Genesis says).
Questions for going deeper:
How are we creators?
How are we already creators without knowing it?
How will we live knowing that we are creators?