Genesis really defines what our purpose in life really is. It makes clear our true purpose.
We read in Genesis: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.
No other creature was given this kind of mandate. In this simple mandate, we have someone to love (male and female), we have a job to do (rule over), we have an adventure to live (explore the Outback), and a God to enjoy (made in His image). God sums up our purpose in two short verses with one key phrase “the image of God”. Something of God is crammed into every life.
We are scaled down copies of God. Some people tarnish it and some people polish it, but we are all responsible for it. If we are not made in the image of God life is cheapened; but if we are, we have inestimable worth.
At the time the Book of Genesis was written, ancient kings of the Near East, who ruled vast territories, knew that they could not be physically present everywhere in their kingdoms, so they commissioned statues of themselves to be placed in all the major cities of their realms. When people looked at these statues, they were reminded of the authority of the king who ruled them. The statue was not the same as the king, but it represented the king and was due the same glory and honor. To dishonor the statue of the king was sacrilege, treason.
Humanity was to function in the same way. We are reflections, rough representations of the Creator in ways that his other creatures are not (Intimate Allies, 18). You are God’s representative on earth. There is no higher calling. When we create, and excel at something and are able to stand back and admire what we have created and accomplished through His power and creativity at work in us image-bearers, we are most like the image of God as it is presented in Genesis 1 and 2.
Because we are made in God’s image, we are capable of great things in the area of mathematics, science, technology, philosophy, the arts, sports, medicine, construction, and serving causes that change people’s lives, and so on and so forth. Our greatness is a result of God’s image in us. We reflect the glory of our Maker. Knowing that we are fulfilling God’s purpose of representation in our world and moving the largers story along, is the only thing that really gives rest to the restless human heart.
Like so many worldviews today (like atheism or secular humanism), we still have communities of people who will deny that we are image-bearers, either by denouncing the existence of the King or offering naturalistic explanations for how we came to exist. As a result, life purpose is lost, our image-bearing status is denied. Oh, there are still people to love, places to go, adventures to live. But there is no God to reflect. Cut off from this connection, we don’t view people right, we don’t view our jobs right, and we don’t fully live the adventure of making an eternal difference.
In a post-Fallen world, God’s image has become marred; it is defaced but not erased. In this defaced state, we don’t create or do things or admire what we’ve created for the right reasons. We use our abilities to do evil things sometimes or to selfishly enjoy the benefits that they bring. And instead of creating in community, we fragment into disunity, filled with jealousy, envy, pride, sloth, and wasted potential.
The glory of the Creator in you is demonstrated when you find yourself enjoying God, created in His image, reflecting His purposes, caught up in His love-story, and partnering with Him to restore a broken humanity. The body He gave you to live in; the globe He gave you to live on; the abilities He infused you with; the brain he placed in your cranium; the property and possessions He has allowed you to own – it’s all to be creatively shaped, cared for, and used in a way that reflects the One whose image you bear.