“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)
I don’t know if you have ever stopped to ask the psalmist’s question, but it would be helpful if you did. What is a human and what is God’s purpose for the human being? I believe the answers to both questions are essentially intertwined.
God has made a wide variety of life, but it is only of humans that he said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Thus, a human, by definition, is a being made in the image of God. The human’s purpose is then twofold. First, the human is a mirror that reflects the glory, character, and purpose of God into the creation. Second, the human is a mirror that reflects the praise of all creation back to God.
Some humans choose to take on another shape, another purpose. They do not wish to be made in God’s image or to reflect Him in this world. In making such a decision, they have rejected some of what it means to be human. They are withering away into something less than human. We even recognize this sometimes without really thinking about it. When we see a serial killer or a child molester, you will sometimes hear someone say, “He is a monster.” What I believe they are expressing, maybe without knowing it, is that this person has been steadily casting off their own humanity and it has become noticeable. The less a person reflects God, the less human they become.
Of course, all of us have sinned, and we live in a world infested with sin. Are we all inhuman? In a sense, we can say that every sinner has become less than they were created to be. We have defaced the image that God has made, but all is not lost. God has come down to show us His image in perfection. Jesus “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus is the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). In Jesus, we see once again what it means to be truly human and in him humanity finds redemption. Today, while Jesus has returned to the Father, God’s Spirit continues the project, reshaping sinners into Christ-like humans as once this same Spirit brought us to life from clay.
So what is man that God should care about us? We are His image. We are His workmanship. We are here to reflect Him in this creation and to reflect the creation’s praise back to Him. Are you living as a human? Are you patterning your life after Adam — a man made in God’s image who chose to live as something else — or are you patterning your life after Jesus — a human made like Adam who showed us God?
Be human. Follow Jesus. Reflect God.