Yes, God created us in his image but we, as a human race beginning with Adam and Eve, are sinners. This fact deserves a moment of reflection.
As human beings we are not a close cousin of the animals, or a distant relative of primitive plant life, nor a product of Primordial goo. Rather, we are wonderful and unique—the most excellent of all God’s works. We represent a special expression of the divine nature, created by God’s own personal activity. In Genesis 1:26 God says, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…” (emphasis mine.)
Unlike the making of everything else described in the Bible’s opening chapter, there was a council that occurred between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit prior to man’s creation. Humanity is introduced with solemnity, dignity, and the honor of an intimate deliberation on the part of the that mystery often referred to as “The Trinity.”
Contemplate how wonderfully we have been made. God graciously gave us intellectual ability far superior to that of any animal. We have a mind able to hear and understand God’s word, emotions suited to respond to God’s love, and a will that enables us to choose whether or not to obey God. Thus we’ve been equipped, not only to obey Him, but to love, follow and participate in His work on earth.
That’s powerful stuff.
Psalm 139:14 sums this up nicely:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfullymade; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
When one considers all this it would seem foolish to not take up God’s offer of forgiveness through repenting of our ways and surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Only then are we able to begin to understand that the precepts of the Lord are right. And once we live according to those precepts we have fellowship with God and our lives operate much better, thus giving joy to the heart.
A young man once told me about the night that changed his life. At his mother’s insistence he and his twin brother left their dysfunctional home to escape domestic violence perpetrated by their stepfather. The two boys had been attending a youth group at a local church and the pastor was able to take them in.
I’ll never forget my friend’s description of that first night away from home.
“I was laying in the bottom bunk; my brother was up top. I thought about all the wonderful people in the church who were so nice to us. My brother and I were in bed and safe. I knew God loved me. I knew He was my true father. I decided right then and there I wanted nothing else in life but to follow Him.”
This young man never swerved from the path, and God has blessed him in remarkable ways. He never attended college (I’m not sure he even graduated high school), but when was about 19 he landed a job as a deliveryman for a Silicon Valley high-tech startup company. He kept getting promoted. Soon he married a beautiful woman from the church. He kept following Jesus. They started a family. He stayed at the same firm and, because of his excellent work, he continued seeing promotions. The company became wildly successful. He is now worth millions.
My friend knows that the precepts of the Lord are right, and through obedience his life is full of great joy (and it has nothing to do with his bank account).
Sadly, that night on the top bunk his twin brother didn’t make the same decision. For many years his life was wasted as he drifted in and out of trouble and jail.
Obeying God doesn’t mean you’re expecting to be perfect. It just means you’re making a choice to yield your imperfect ways to Him.
This is the key to authentic joy.