By Ellen Taylor
There was a time, early in his musical career, when singer-songwriter John Mayer claimed, “James Taylor is the template.” Anyone with ears to hear can understand that, as the songs that made Mayer popular were all built on earnest crooning and guitar strumming—first think “Fire and Rain” (by Taylor), and then compare it to “Daughters” (by Mayer). Mayer has since changed his tune, so to speak, focusing on a more funk-soul-blues-oriented approach to his music. But way back when, in the beginning, when everything got started, the template was different.
So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God;
he created them male and female (Genesis 1:27).
The first few chapters in Genesis reveal the template, if you will, for everything. And that includes humanity. When God set about to create male and female, God used Himself as the template, or image. Truth is, there are truckloads of ideas and opinions as to what “in God’s image” means. Some of these are solid, and some are rather thin ice. But if you stick with the text and pay attention to the words that are used around Adam and Eve’s beginnings, the word “create,” or variations on that theme (e.g., naming and tending), is like a bell that just keeps ringing. To be made in God’s image is to join Him in the ongoing work of creation, bringing that which is “good” into this world.
Have we changed our tune, so to speak, since then? Anyone with eyes to see would have to agree that we’ve strayed a little, if not a lot, from that original design. Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s voice, and that led to an un-creation of the original relationship God established with the first man and woman. Their decision and subsequent actions, what the Bible calls “sin,” unraveled something that was very good. The results were far-reaching, all in some way associated with pain—whether bearing a child, or working the ground, or remembering how good it was way back when, in the beginning.
But while we, sadly and often, break from that original image or design, God does not. He stays true to Himself, to His image. God’s template does not change. So even when we un-create things by way of sin, God is constantly at work re-creating, work Scripture elsewhere refers to as redeeming, and that’s good. Actually, that’s very good.
Adam and Eve’s story, while being full of disappointments, is also brimming with that re-creating, redemptive creative work. God made clothing out of animal skins for the first man and woman, effectively preparing them for what was ahead. God did not abandon them. He “clothed” them, covering their shame and guilt, and took care of them, as He does us. This act, and every other work of redemption from God’s hand, points to Christ, who breaks the curse of sin and death, covers us with His own righteousness rather than animal skins, and makes a way for us to return to paradise with God. In doing so, He bears the image of God perfectly and invites us to follow Him so that we, too, might bring more of what reflects Him—more of what is “good”—into this world.
Written by John Blase