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Image means to reveal and likeness is to reflect
Here is how the difference works. A man comes across a pool of water in the road and he sees his likeness – it looks a little like him. But the water is actually dirty with rocks and silt, reflecting some of pure water but a whole lot more of what is fallen humanity.
This is a picture of fallen humanity. Fallen humans are easy to spot. We see them in prison photos and police mug shots. We may or may not see the image of God because there is so much dirt and silt.
What is difficult is seeing a fallen man, nicely dressed, educated and prosperous, and on the outside not looking fallen at all. We say ” Oh that person would never go to hell. He is so nice.” But we are not looking at the image of God in that person but only the likeness, vastly cleaned up.
All men have the spirit
All men have the spirit of God in them because He has created them in the image of God. We confuse the spruced-up, elegant man with the image of God, when really there are two natures there. Your life is about which one of these natures will eventually rule.
God’s purpose for us as redeemed people is to bear the image of Christ. We are to reveal what He is now in us in holiness.
I thought this especially valuable in helping to explain why missionaries can be so confused about foreigners. I met many wonderful people in China but they were un-redeemed. It would be easy to simply say they don’t need God because of the likeness of Christ in them, and ignore the whole package of salvation.
Our job is to bring forth the image
The worst thing to ever happen to this world would be to have every day and every night a different length. One night is 4 hours long, the next day is 22 hours and the next night 12 hours the next day 30 hours and you would never know what would be next. Nothing could get done. No seasons for growing, no ability to make appointments, confusion everywhere, and what would be on TV and when? Our lives are dominated by time – time for dinner, time for work, time to brush your teeth. It would be chaos.
We walk into a house that is a complete mess, or an office with tools and papers thrown about and we ask what is wrong? As a housewife I looked at the Tsunami pictures and thought – how do you start cleaning up? Psychologists tell us chronic disorder is one sign of depression.
The presence of order in the universe tells us our first piece of information about God. That is what the ancients thought and they originally worshiped the sun, moon and the stars. They do that today as in astrology; bet you never thought of it as paganism. But really, do you think the stars are talking to us? Not likely. I have many stones in the yard and they never speak.
Every culture on the face of the earth believes in a supreme being based on the order seen everywhere. Philosophers call it Intelligent Design.
David was the youngest of 8 sons so he was given the worst job in the family – tending the sheep. After many long hours out in the hills alone he wrote this:
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
4 What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him? (Psalm 8:3-4)
Almighty God, we thank you for the orderly universe you have given us – the 24-hour day is the canvas on which we paint our individual lives. Amen.