An Easy Way to See the Image of God

(This is a reaction to the February 10 bible study lesson at http://ssnet.org/lessons/13a/less07.html.)

Socialists have said that no one can meaningfully own modern products because they’re all made of materials mined in one country, sent by many people to some other country, combined with other materials from yet other countries, assembled by many other people, and then shipped to us. How can you really own something that has so much labor from so many other people in it? That’s what they say.

It’s interesting, but let’s not argue about whether it’s right or wrong right now. What’s more significant for Christians is that even if you build something yourself from wood you found in your own forest, it still belongs to God. And not in an abstract sense. It can’t be any other way. See, if you build a chair, you still didn’t create the atoms and molecules of it, and you can’t keep it in existence for even a moment. Without God’s attention, it would cease to exist.

Things can only continue existing if they are totally under God’s control, so He owns everything. No one else can hold their own possessions together; we have no absolute control over anything.

A radical, but Biblical, idea is that Nature is not an independent thing. The things we see happening in Nature are not, as we modern people normally think, some dead matter created millions of years ago that is traveling along lines dictated by natural laws. Instead, the Biblical model says that what we see in Nature is a direct action of God using Nature as a tool.

But that doesn’t mean that Nature is an independent tool that God likes to use just sometimes, on special occasions. No, Nature is a constant instrument of God that He plays without ceasing or it would not exist at all. Nature is practically an action of God that is continuously created by Him. (In a later post, I’m going to explain this radical picture of Nature found in the Bible more thoroughly.)

So then my point is that almost everything around us and in us, even our own deepest cells in our brains, are constantly being made and used and moved by God, in perfect obedience to Him.

Yet, somehow, there’s a part of the universe that doesn’t obey Him.

Everything else absolutely must be controlled by God every moment or it would do nothing at all. Everything in our reality moves only by God’s will. There’s no activity without Him. And yet the human will can choose contrary to God’s will.

That’s a real miracle. Sure, everything is a miracle all the time, but this on a different level. When a molecule of air bounces against another molecule, that’s because God’s infinite mind is telling those two molecules to do exactly that while also telling them to keep existing. They would not exist if He pulled back His command from them. So how do we have a part of us that can ignore His will while everything else in the universe can only exist at all in perfect obedience to His will?

It’s a mystery.

He has given us such a profound gift in that free will; it seems like it makes us more like Him, like it’s part of how we’re “made in the image of God.” Without it, we’d be the same as molecules of air in perfect obedience; with it, we can reject His love or return it freely.

~Lemuel Bach
(Praise Team Leader at New Horizons SDA Church in Republic, MO)

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