Christian theology in a Sudanese context. The beginning of the story of God and humankind.
In the book of Genesis God uses the word ‘Man’ for naming ‘people’, both male and female (Genesis 5:1,2). It is the Hebrew word ‘Adam’. It refers to human beings, Homo sapiens. It is ‘man’ as opposed to animals or machines, not as opposed to ‘woman’. This word ‘man’ includes ‘woman’. The English dictionary defines ‘human’ as “characterising, or relating to man and mankind; consisting of people, man, woman or child”. In the older creeds and confessions of Christian theology, ‘man’ usually means ‘human being’ in this way. God did not need to create humankind. He was not lonely because He had perfect fellowship within the Trinity (see chapter nine). God created us, not because He had to, but because He wanted us! We are formed and made to live for God’s glory (Isaiah 43:6,7; Ephesians 1:11,12). Therefore, every person who lives is important to God.
When you walk through the industrial areas of Khartoum you can see men making things. Wood is used to make tables and chairs. Steel is used to make cupboards. Plastic or rope twine is used to string beds and stools.Even tea leaves are used to make ‘chai’ in early morning and when it is time for ‘fatur’ in mid-morning. The people who make these things have purposes for the items they make. And God has a purpose for us. Every person is best fulfilled by doing what God made him or her to do. Man is made to reflect God’s own likeness, within the limits of our humanity (Genesis
1:26-27). We should be the image of God, each with a good, holy character, knowledge and lifestyle (Ephesians 4:22-23; Colossians 3:10). Man represents God in governing the rest of creation and is like God in many ways. The same words ‘image’ and ‘likeness’ of Genesis 1:26-27 are also used when Adam and Eve had their son, whom they called Seth (Genesis 5:3). As a child has characteristics of its parents, but is not exactly the same as its parents, so we are made to be mirrors of our creator God – being as much like Him as we can. Jesus Christ is “the image of the invisible God” and the “exact representation of His being” (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). Jesus is Man as God wants all people to be. One day in the heavenly future there are going to be many like Jesus! All Christians, from every tribe, nationality, and people-group, will be there and will be like Him (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2)!
At present we all have an inner sense of right and wrong, which shows we have a morality like God. We can also reason and think in logical ways. We begin to think the thoughts of God that we should. By this we show that mentally and spiritually we are made in God’s image. We can relate to God and to each other in family and community. In its turn this reflects God and how He personally relates to Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The dignity every person has undoubtedly been given by God, should always be reflected in the way we treat every other human being (Psalm 8:3-6).
Thinking it through.
(a). In what ways are all people ‘in the image of God’? (Genesis 1:27).
(b). Why did God create people?
(c). How is Jesus different from all other men, in God’s image?