We are made in God’s image. Genesis 1:26–27 contains this in clear language, not once or twice, but four times.
“Let us make mankind in our image. . .” (v.26). “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (v.27). Verse 26 is a divine dialogue of the Trinity. Verse 27 include descriptions of God’s activity. Though verse 27 is elongated, all four of these expressions contain the same three basic grammatical elements found in a simple sentence (subject, verb, object) in these three words — “God” “created” “mankind.” And part of this creation involved God implanting His image in humanity. That conveyed image is enjoyed by no other part of His creation — only humanity.
It is as though when it comes to humanity, the creation account contains a unique and heavily emphasized stress upon two things: God’s creative work and His conveyed image. It is as though God Himself could not stress enough that He is Creator, that humanity bears His image in some way and that, as image bearers, we are spiritual, moral and relational beings — built to experience and convey love and truth.
His image is conveyed to us. His creative ability is conveyed as well. One could say that the Creator created creators. The creative part is not God’s work in making us (v.26–27), but is strongly conveyed to humanity in the next three verses (28–30). He gave the command to bear fruit, increase, subdue and rule. Those all require connection with the Creator and the ability to apply. All of those require spiritual, moral and relational alignment with God in order to be done well. We must use His gift of creativity to do what He called us to do. Bearing fruit, increasing, subduing and ruling well require God’s presence in us and our creative application. How does humanity bear fruit, increase, subdue and rule? We can do so selfishly and destructively or in the likeness of the One who created. In fact, we will do it either selfishly and destructively or after the likeness of our Creator.
We will create. We are made in God’s image. We were made to create. We are spiritual, moral and relational beings. When our spiritual, moral and relational lives are repaired, then we are able to care for His creation in the way that reflects His image. It is required of us to first be fixed by salvation that comes from Jesus Christ. Then, as we grow in righteousness, we will create and care for the creation in the same Spirit that gave birth to all things.
The creative ability of humanity as God’s image bearers is clearly seen around us. I have marveled at human creativity when flying into New York City. I have stood for hours captivated by the artistic genius of those whose paintings and sculpture fill the Louvre in Paris and Uffizi in Florence. I have looked in wonderment at the rice terraces of Ifugao. I have stood in amazement before the Great Wall in China and the pyramids in Egypt and pondered the mathematical genius required to design them and to measure, cut, transport and set stones.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. It is just the physical outcome of creativity. That same creativity conveyed to us as part of God’s image in us is even more powerfully displayed when we use our God-breathed ability to reproduce everything good, to restore brokenness around us, to exercise authority in ways that heal rather than hurt. These are not just good ideas. They are commands. Christians take them seriously.
God created us to care for all that is His and to restore everything that is broken. He has given us His Spirit and the creativity to do it. It is incumbent upon us to participate in His re-creation of all things. Our creativity can be exercised in politics, biology, all of the sciences, philosophy, psychology, the arts and literature. But our creativity can be exercised as well in relational restoration, inspiring others and working to bring loving order out of corrupting chaos.
You do not have to be a right-brained artist or a savant to create. You simply need to know the Creator well and work by His Spirit to restore what He created. Restoration requires creativity as much as innovation. Apply yourself to restore what God so wonderfully created.
Bishop Matthew Thomas has been an active part of the Free Methodist Church since 1979. His ministry roles have included serving as a pastor, church planter, missionary and superintendent.