Genesis 1:26 : the dignity of man rooted in God
Man is accorded profound dignity in the beginning: he is a ruler, and he is made like God.
It’s a astonishing fact that man is made in God’s image and likeness. While not losing sight of our sinful condition and many valid reasons for humility, we should also properly marvel that we are wonderfully made, designed like God.
What does it mean to be made in God’s image and likeness? In other words, what characteristics and qualities in us that are also in God? A non-exhaustive list: we are creative (no one does not create – even the least artsy jock re-‘creates’ when he creates a game out of a ball and lines in the ground); we have minds, wills, and emotions; we are moral actors; we can act upon the world.
To see how wonderful this is, simply imagine if a rock said to you 'I have an idea...' or even if your cat or dog came to you with a water-color painting it had made.
As a political, moral, philosophical, and aesthetic matter, our dignity and worth is rooted in being created in God’s image. This is why some argue that our country must acknowledge God – because to do otherwise unmoors us from the very source of our worth. If a man is not made in the image of God, then he is just another beast.
Man is immediately established as ruler over the other animals on earth. Here is one example of God’s establishment of authority (others are government/citizen, husband/wife, parent/child, elder/congregation, Jesus/everything).
Circling back around to man being made in God’s image and likeness, this is something profound and helpful to meditate on. In our cynical, competitive world we do not look upon ourselves and others as God-like. Would we slander each other if we thought of each other as God-like? Would we cut each other off in traffic? Would we kill each other? Would we not love each other more if we considered each other God-like? Would we not enjoy each other and ourselves more? Wouldn’t we be more secure and more happy if we thought of ourselves as a God-like race instead of members of the rat race?
There is a movement in the world to make human beings believe they are nothing but animals, driven by bestial urges just like rats and chimps. This is a lie. You and your neighbor are like God.