1 Corinthians 12:4-6
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
I’ve heard different teachings over the years about what it means to be made in God’s likeness. One old world view is a physical likeness. Another view is the body, soul, spirit teaching. I do know that one reason for the likeness is so “they may rule.” But what does it mean to be made in God’s likeness or image?
For me, at this point in time, I take it to mean something very simple. That is, when you looked at Adam and Eve you saw the Father. Not physically, but wherever they were the presence of God was there, the image of God was there. The authority of God was there, the love of God was there, the heart of God was there.
That sort of got lost during the fall. God’s Spirit often rested on men and worked through men, but something changed when Jesus came. He walked on the earth as Immanuel, God with us. When you saw Jesus you saw the Father; the authority, the love, the heart, the Father. After the resurrection Jesus ascended into Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to live in us. This is very different than how God’s Spirit rested on men before Jesus came. When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit the image of God that was lost at the fall was restored to humanity.
Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
There were some amazingly great people in Old Testament times and we have much to learn from them and from how God worked with them. But the least in the kingdom is greater. We are the body of Christ, we are Immanuel now. We are the image; the authority, the love, and the heart of God on the earth today. Not because we are great people, but because God chose to place his image and glory in humanity.
Luke 14 15-24 tells the story of a man that prepared a great banquet and when it was ready the guests who had been invited didn’t come. They had other things to do. So the man had his servants go and bring the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. And then they continued to look for people to come to the banquet, wherever they could find people who would come, people who did not have other or “better” things to do.
God is not expressing his image through the great people of the nations, through people who are consumed with the things of this world. Instead he is expressing his image through the least of the nations. People who seem to be nobody. People others often ignore. Yet in the midst of these people you will find the image of God.
John 4 tells the story of Jesus meeting a woman from Samaria. He started to talk with her (something Jews didn’t do), offered her living water, and at one point told her something that he could only know supernaturally; that she had five previous husbands and the man she was with now was not her husband. She saw God’s mercy and love in Jesus, but it was that supernatural word of knowledge that caused her to see him as a prophet and maybe even the Messiah. And all of it together caused her to bring the rest of the town to meet Jesus.
We need the fruit and the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit working in us so people will see God’s image. God wants to love on the people around us. He may want to show an act of kindness or an act of forgiveness. He may want to give them something to eat or some clothing. He may want to heal them or say something supernatural to them so they will realize that he is there. And he wants to do that through us; in our homes, at the grocery store, in a bar, wherever there are people who don’t have other things to do. Let God’s Spirit work this amazing work in your life. Let’s be “God with us.”