When we consider our existence, we often face fundamental questions about who we are. “Who am I?” “How did I get here?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going when I die?” As a Christian, we believe the Bible gives us these answers. We often come to Genesis 1 to answer the question of how we got here. It tells us that in the beginning God created everything. Genesis 1 points to the fact of God’s creation, and it also gives us some information about how God actually created the world. In our curiosity and pursuit of knowledge, we often look deeper into the science behind what God has done, and we can develop scientific models that can teach us about certain aspects of God’s creation, the flood of Noah’s time, and other historical events that the Bible records for us. But Genesis 1 answers more than the question of how we got here. At a recent seminar with Positive Action for Christ (positiveaction.org), it was pointed out that Genesis 1 also shows us God’s authority when He declares a purpose for Creation and also when we see God assigning a value to His creation. We see God’s power when we see Him creating light and dry land and the sun. But we also see God’s authority when He declares something about the things He has made. Genesis 1:14-16 says, “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.” These verses record the fact of God’s creation, which shows His power. But they also show God’s authority when we see God assigning a purpose to them. Not only did God create all things, but He also assigned a purpose to them. In addition, God also assigned a value to them. Genesis 1:18b says, “God saw that it was good.” We see all three of these aspects in the different days of Creation. God created each thing, but He also shows His authority by assigning a purpose and value to what He made.
We especially see these three aspects in the creation of mankind, and this is where we answer more than one of the fundamental questions of life. Genesis 1:26-27 says, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” God created man in His image. The word for image is not one for a physical image; it’s not saying that God has a physical body that ours has been designed like (John 4:24 and other passages specify that God is a spirit). Instead, the meaning of the word image is a likeness or representation. So when God created man “in His image,” it means that God created man to reflect and represent who God is. Although God is holy (set apart from us, unique and different from us), He has also passed on some of His attributes to us. God gave us intelligence, love, faithfulness, and many other characteristics that He possesses. Now He possesses them perfectly, and as sinners, we do not reflect them perfectly. But God gave man a purpose when He created him: reflect who God is, which will ultimately glorify God. God also gave man another purpose when He created him. In Genesis 1:26,God said that man should have dominion over Creation. Ultimately God rules over all, but God delegated some dominion over the earth to mankind.
God also assigned a value to mankind. Genesis 1:31 says, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” God called His creation, including mankind, very good. Now when we look around us today, we see many things that are not good. But the Bible shows us that those bad things are part of the effects of the Fall and mankind’s sin. But even when we are sinful, God still assigns value to mankind. Romans 5:7-8 says, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Verse 7 points out our typical view of people: we would struggle to give our lives for someone that we considered good or righteous; that would still be a difficult sacrifice for us. But God, who is perfectly good and righteous, was willing to die for us as sinners. Even in our depravity and sin, God still assigned enough value to us to die for us (which also helps answer the question of where we may go when we die). Now that value comes from the grace and love of God, not from anything that we have done to earn it. But God when God looks at us, He has created us for a purpose, and He assigns us a value.
So how does this apply how we look at one another as people? In answer to the question of why we are here, Isaiah 43:7b answers this question when it says, “For I have created him for my glory.” We do have a purpose in life, and that purpose is ultimately to glorify God. One of the greatest ways we can do that is by reflecting His character.
But the fact that God assigns a value to people should also affect the way we look at others. Why should we value the life of an unborn child? We value that life because God assigns value to that life. Why should we value the life of the older person who struggles with health issues as they near the end of life? We value that life because God assigns value to that life. If we get into the things that are a little bit harder for us, why should we value that person who does not treat us with much value? We value that life because God assigns value to that life. Why should we value the person who is difficult to like? We value that life because God assigns value to that life. In the beginning God created. But in the beginning, God also assigned purpose and value. Let us recognize that purpose and value and treat others accordingly.