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God Look-Alikes

• Greg Boyd

We were created in God’s image, to represent Him on Earth. In ancient times, people would make statues to represent their gods, but we were commanded to represent God, not make statues. In this sermon, Greg talks about our value as God’s image and the role we play in this world.

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Last week, we talked about the “image of the invisible God” having two connotations. The first, which we talked more in-depth last week, was about Jesus revealing, perfectly, who God is. This week we will tackle the second connotation, which is how Jesus reveals, perfectly, us.

The concept of the image of God goes back to Genesis 1, where Adam and Eve were created in God’s image. They were to represent God on this earth, and they were to exercise their authority over the earth. However, we all know how that story ended. To understand the concept of the image of God, we need to take a look at how people treated images of gods in the ancient times.

In ancient times, people would make stone or wood images of their gods. They would then worship these images and would protect these images. This was done because people believed that whatever they did to the images, they did to their god. So, if a person worshipped the stone or wood carving, they worshipped the god. They believed that this physical representation of their god contained the divine spirit-being. This is why it was radical of God to say that he wanted no images made for him, because images were the norm of the day.

When Jesus came, he restored the image that we were meant to keep. By living his life, he lived in the image of God that we are supposed to represent. So, if we want to be God’s image again, we should follow the way that Jesus lived. There are three things that Jesus gave us when he showed us the true image we represent: how we can be fully alive, what domain of authority we have, and showed us our unending capacity for love.

Jesus came so that we could be fully alive. God created us to be his physical representatives on earth, and he created us to be fully alive in that reality. When Satan came and killed our image-bearing capacity, we became less alive by being entangled with sin and shame. But Jesus came to break those chains and give us back our image. If you are in Christ, you are a restored “God look-alike.”

Jesus also came to show us our domain of authority in him. As God’s physical representative, we’ve been given authority to act on his behalf in this world. Satan wants us to think we mean nothing, but nothing could be further from the truth. We are created to be God look-alikes, not God’s puppets. Every prayer we pray makes a difference.

Every choice we make leaves an imprint in this world. Every action has consequence. So, as image-bearers, we need to learn about how to live this new life under Jesus. We need to be in community, asking each other how to live out this authority everyday. We need to take stock of our “say-so” in all areas and assess whether or not we’re reflecting God’s will.

Finally, Jesus showed us that, as image-bearers, we have an unending capacity to love. Our God is perfect love, and as his image, we should represent that perfect love. Our most important responsibility and domain of authority is to love with this unending love. Remember, what we do to the image; we do to the god. When God created us in his image, he wanted us to love each other, and in so doing, we love God. Dorothy Day said, “We love God as much as the person whom we love the least.” For some people, it’s about how much they love themselves, and for others, it’s about how much they love others. When we give food to the hungry, we love God. When we give water to the thirsty, we love God. And when we clothe the naked, we love God. To not clothe or give water or food to someone is to neglect God. To not give ourselves the things we need is to neglect God. This thought isn’t meant to shame, but it is meant to show us how to refocus on what it means to be the image-bearer of God.

Jesus reveals what it means to be the true image-bearer of God. In his life, death and resurrection, he showed us the true way of living for God. He showed us how to be fully alive. He showed us how to exercise our authority on earth. And he showed us our unending capacity to love. When we start living out these three things, we bring a truer image of God to this world.

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Topics: Identity in Christ, Love, Presence of God


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Focus Scripture:

  • Colossians 1:15-20

    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

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11 thoughts on “God Look-Alikes

    Edward says: Tuesday September 27, 2011 at 5:57 am

    Greg ends up saying that Jesus shows us that humanity is meant for:

    1) Full, sin-free life
    2) Exhibiting godly authority
    3) Unending capacity for love

    I think what Greg was saying was true, yet a bit incomplete. One of the main ways that we image God is our relationship to the Spirit of God. Remember, biblically, an aspect of human reality is the very Breath of God, not just the cosmic dust that is our universe and our composition. In other words, the Holy Spirit is a presupposition of human existence! Jesus shows us that, Via our relationship with the Spirit, the Uncreated God’s very love, joy, peace, and power can indwell within (and be experienced by) human individuality, empowering it’s full capacities. Jesus showed the human being to consciously be a “temple” of God’s very Presence. Hint: “The Transfiguration”. Humanity is MEANT to shine with the Presence of God.

    So…one more…Jesus shows us that humanity is created for:

    4) being a “dwelling-place” for God via the Spirit

    Reply
    Edward says: Tuesday September 27, 2011 at 6:14 am

    Continuing thought. Remember this from the focus Scripture?

    “For God was pleased to have ALL HIS FULLNESS dwell in him…”

    The actual manner by which God’s “fullness” dwelled in Jesus humanity was by the Holy Spirit. Humanity is DESIGNED for this…which is why Paul can pray this in Ephesians 3:

    “For this reason,I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power BY HIS SPIRIT in your inner being; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints the breadth, length, and depth. And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you may be filled with ALL THE FULNESS OF GOD.”

    Again, this is another way humanity “images” God.

    Reply
    kevin says: Friday September 30, 2011 at 9:28 am

    If Jesus is fully God and at the same time, fully human, then am I also fully God/fully human? partially God/fully human?

    Reply
    Edward says: Friday September 30, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Ok.

    ONLYJesus Christ is fully God and fully human. Only Jesus is the Incarnate Son/Word/Logos of God that is “begotten of the Father before all worlds , Light of Light, very God of very God” and “being of one substance with the Father.” (Quoting the 4th Ecumenical Council). The Incarnate Son/Word/Logos is the ONLY PERSON about whom that statement is true. It is not true for any other beings, celestial or human.

    Now what is the case with us (human believers in Jesus who have the Trinity indwelling within and empowering us)? We are NOT fully God, but we can become fully human by being freed from our fallenness, by being filled with the Spirit. In other words, Jesus shows that the Holy Spirit is essential to the full display of humanity’s energy and capacities. Jesus, being God the Son/Word/Logos, has the Holy Spirit NATURALLY within his person, being of the same nature as the Father. (Remember the quotes above!) This continues even when God the Son/Word/Logos incarnates. Every other human being has the Holy Spirit BY GRACE within his person.

    So, recapping: ONLY Jesus is fully God, fully human. His believers, by faith through Grace, can be “full” of God, thereby fulfilling their humanity.

    Make sense?

    Reply
    Edward says: Friday September 30, 2011 at 11:39 am

    While we are on the subject of Jesus being fully God and fully human…

    With all due respect to Greg, the kenotic view that Greg shares in the Q&A session of this message (approximate at 36:50 of the video) is highly problematic–and, to me, untenable–for multiple reasons…first of which is what I quoted above: the 4th Ecumenical Council, a Church council that is accepted by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and most Protestants as being a genuine standard of right doctrine about the Trinity.

    Ask yourself: How can God the Son “give up” omniscience and omnipresence (both of which are NECESSARY aspects of his originating and sustaining Creation)…when it’s not HIS to give up in the first place? In other words, all of the divinity that God the Son has comes immediately and eternally from the uncreated God the Father. God the Son IS the personal reception of this self-giving from the Uncreated Father within the Trinity. This is unchangably how the relationship between the Father and the Son is, given the 4th Ecumenical Council. So how can God the Son willingly “give up” use or access to his God the Father-given uncreated, divine nature…when that actually circumscribes His very PERSONHOOD? How can the Incarnate Word/Son/Logos divest himself of omniscience and omnipresence…when he is unchangably “very God from very God” who is the perfect image/reflection of the unchangably omnipotent, omniscient, transcendent Father?

    That doesn’t make much sense, does it? Hmmm…

    Well, that’s only ONE thing that problematic. There are others. Mad love and respect to Greg…but I think he’s got some issues to consider with his current position. So, tread carefully concerning the kenotic view, my brothers and sisters. Perils and dangers there be…

    Reply
    George says: Friday September 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    If God can be God without knowing all things (omniscience) and without being present to all created realities (omnipresence), i.e., if (as Greg says) the only ‘necessary’ God-defining attribute is perfect love (character), and if WE shall be unfailingly loving once our characters are solidified in heaven (as Greg admits), then will our being perfectly loving THEN mean we shall have become ‘divine’? It seems to follow. If ‘perfect love’ is all that’s necessary to constituting ‘divine being’ (as Greg said) then once we love perfectly we’ll be divine. Surely there’s more to being ‘divine’ than being unfailingly loving.

    Reply
    Mandy says: Saturday October 1, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    I don’t believe any of the Lords powers were withheld. He comes to each of us where we are.

    Reply
    David W says: Tuesday March 12, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Here is an excerpt from part 3 of a 19 part study on “The Seven Spirits of God” by J. Preston Eby that may (or may not) add to the above replies. Here is a link to the full writing (of part 3). http://www.kingdombiblestudies.org/7spirits/7spirits03.htm

    What Christ The Spirit Is…
    How often we try to channel in some of what God is into our lives. It’s as though God is outside of us, and we are endeavoring to draw from Him some of His virtue, nature, power and life. I once walked that route myself. I was always expecting that somehow the Lord would pour out upon me, or into me, what I needed. But one day I discovered an important truth in I Jn. 4:8: “God is love.” Suddenly the “is” stuck out. What dawned on me was something like this: It doesn’t say God has love, but God IS love. If somebody has a thing, then it isn’t he himself, its just something attached to him, as if you have a pair of shoes on, or some money in your pocket. You just have it, and you can share it. But the Bible doesn’t say God HAS love, but God IS love. Love, therefore, must not be a thing I can have, it is not something God has, that He can just give me a little of. Love is exclusively a PERSON. GOD is a PERSON. God IS LOVE. Therefore, there is no other pure, self-giving love anywhere in the universe apart from God Himself. Love is exclusively the nature and character of one Being in the whole universe – and that’s not me.

    This set an entirely new trend of understanding going in my life. Suddenly I began to see that I don’t have one iota of love, never have, and never will! God is love – period. No one else. I can only possess love, I can only become love, to the degree that I take the reality of God into me, to the degree that God HIMESLF is worked into my life! As I surrender to Him, I surrender to love. As I become filled with HIM, I become filled with love. I will never be able to love. HE is always love!

    Soon an entire new world began to open before me. I began to relate this principle to all those things which pertain to what I must become as a son of God. Suddenly another truth burst upon me from I Cor. 1:24 where it says that Christ “is the power of God.” Not Christ has the power, but He IS the power! Here too, I had thought power was something which God possessed, which He could “give” me some of, and receiving enough of it, I would become “God’s man of faith and power!” But now I knew that power also IS A PERSON. I am not power, I have no power. God does not have power, but Christ IS THE POWER OF GOD. Then I began to discover that God doesn’t “have” anything, but He IS EVERYTHING! He doesn’t “give” us anything, but He BECOMES EVERYTHING within us! Jesus said, “I AM the truth, I AM the life.” To Martha He said, “I AM the resurrection.” I thought the resurrection was a “day.” Now I see that the resurrection is a PERSON. I needed wisdom. I Cor. 1:30 tells me that Christ IS THE WISDOM of God. He is the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God.

    Finally I came to a statement which gathered all together and placed the capstone on the whole structure. The verse was Col 3:11, where it says of those who are in Christ that “Christ is all and in all.” Christ IS all, not Christ has all. And if Christ IS ALL, what am I? Not much, by the law of mathematics! Christ is ALL IN ALL! Then it really dawned upon me that the only reason for the existence of the entire creation is to CONTAIN and BECOME ONE with the Creator! All outside of that is meaningless. Outside of that is left only the sorry picture of man, and the creation, under the sentence of darkness, distintegration, and death. The Lord the Spirit is, indeed, the ALL-SUFFICIENT DOSE! Whatever I need to be a son of God, to fulfill my destiny in God, is mine, not by trying to “be” anything, not by struggling to “receive” anything, but by bending myself before HIM, the Lord the Spirit, who dwells within, that HE MAY BE ALL IN ALL IN ME! Praise His name!

    “Now the Lord is THE SPIRIT.” He is the Holy Spirit. He is the “Whole Spirit”. He is the completeness of the Spirit. He is the SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOD, all the fullness of the Divine Spirit. The seven Spirits of God are simply the “wholeness” of HIMSELF completely and eternally revealed and manifested and ministered to the universe through that people who become HIS IMAGE before the creation.

    Reply
    Gopher says: Friday March 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Get out of your head, Edward, and think/feel with your heart. And then you’ll grasp Greg’s meaning in regard to this particular question…

    Reply
    lucio says: Monday December 15, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    God ‘s lookalikes were Adam and one of his sons and Jesus Christ. But Jesus Christ is the very flesh of a God Being. God Being or God The Creator has three components or Holy Trinity which are the Soul, the Flesh and the Spirit of intellect in the Mind.

    Reply
    lucio says: Tuesday December 16, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Jesus Christ is not only a flesh but He is really a personal appearance of God the Creator.

    kevin

    September 30, 2011

    If Jesus is fully God and at the same time, fully human, then am I also fully God/fully human? partially God/fully human?

    Yes. Human beings are all gods and goddesses as long as we are capable of commanding, but their is only one god, The Creator who is capable of commanding everything.

    Reply

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