Mar
14
2012

Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation. St. Augustine

And this takes us to another important and vital step—it is to begin to change how we see ourselves. The book of Romans calls this “a renewing of the mind” (Romans 12:2). This requires that we change how we look at God, but also how we view ourselves and why we were created in the first place. In this second step toward a more sound theology, one needs to take a step back and look at the tale of redemption as a whole, and see how they fit into that story. An essential part of the process is coming to know who you are as a person in God’s eyes. However, many people have a hard time here. A common process is: (1) our theology or ideas about God become skewed, and (2) then our conception about ourselves gets off kilter as well. Here is an example of this—each of us has to answer an important question—why did God create you in the first place? To answer this, here is another key theological premise: You are made in the image of God; you are God’s child.

Mediate on that statement for a minute. Go for a short walk and think about the ramifications of that statement—you are God’s child; you were made in the image of God. Just twenty six sentences into the book God wrote, he declares this magnificent truth, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26) That is an amazing statement. This is something to take in and really think about. However, too often we ramble over that amazing assertion, and yet that is the starting point of the entire Scriptures, the entire story of the Bible. The central part of the story of Scriptures is the story of a very special creation—specifically, God’s children. As an illustration, in any story or novel that you could read, be it The Christmas Carol or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, there are central characters to the story; in this one, the two main characters of the Bible are God, and the sparkle of his eye, his children. That is the crux of the biblical story. Read the Bible in its entirety and you will see that theme found in its story over and over. In a unique way, at the end of the day, the story found in the Bible is about you and the Almighty.

Let’s look at one final essential about you and me found in the Bible. The ancient father of the early church, Athanasius (d. 373) boldly asserted that “God became man so that men might become gods.” Doesn’t that sound seriously blasphemous? Can you imagine your pastor using that quote for a sermon some Sunday morning? There’s one problem with this—this guy Athanasius is one of the pillars in constructing Christian theology and doctrine in the early church. A lot of his writings are regarded on the same plane as St. Augustine or any other ancient Christian philosopher (on a side note, C.S. Lewis thought very highly of Athanasius and called his book De Incarnatione, a “masterpiece”). In other words, this guy wasn’t some cultic whacko writing these words; he was a conservative theologian who the church looked to for doctrinal guidance.

But what was he attempting to say with that statement—that God became man so that men might become gods? As I read those words, it tilts toward another notion about us as a people and creation. The point would be this: We, as human beings, as God’s children, have been given redemption; our lives have literally been rescued and redeemed because we are a unique creation unlike anything God has created and his desire is that we become like him.

But what does that mean? Looking forward to Jesus, the truth is that his sacrifice on the cross was for us as human beings, but here is a crucial point, we are not the only “characters” in this story that the Bible tells. In particular, you have intertwined in this story that God has also created another special being, a very unique creation as well. As we all know, the Bible calls these creations angels (Job 38:4-7; Daniel 7:10; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:2,5; Hebrews 1:14). Strangely, in terms of redemption, Jesus does not sacrifice his life for these beings on the cross (Job 1:6, Galatians 4:5-6, 1 Peter: 1:12, Hebrews 2:5). Why is this? They “fell” too, didn’t they? Just like us, they disobeyed God, didn’t they? When we move forward in the story and learn about Jesus and his crucifixion, why is his death not redemptive for these that God created as well?

This then becomes a very important point in terms of our story as a creation. The question then becomes—what makes us so special? Why are we saved from our sins and the fallen angels are not? Why are they not given an opportunity to repent and turn back to God? To answer this question, we have to go back to Athanasius and his idea that “God became man so that men might become gods.” To begin, you have to read Psalm 8:5-6 from the World English Bible; it is one of the few translations in English that translates these verses correctly from the original Hebrew:

What is man, that you think of him? The son of man, that you care for him? For you have made him a little lower than God, And crowned him with glory and honor. You make him ruler over the works of your hands. You have put all things under his feet.

Most English translations such as the New International Version or King James Version interpret this verse differently and they alter that one phrase to say that we were made a little lower than the angels. The problem is that the word used in that verse is the Hebrew word Elohim, which of course, we know is the most used name for God in the Old Testament (used a measly 3,500 times). Back in the 14th century, perhaps when John Wycliffe and others were translating the Scriptures into English from the Greek and Latin, they just could not write out such a bold claim. Just below God? We are made a little lower than God? No, these writers must have thought, what the Psalmist must have meant in that verse is that the human creation was made subject to heavenly  and angelic beings—we were made lower than them. Yet how wrong they were. In fact, that verse translated in that way is actually un-biblical. Again, going back to the book of Genesis, you were made in the image of the living God; He gave himself up for you, because this is how much you are worth as his child. You are priceless. This is how uniquely extra-ordinary you are and this is what makes Jesus’ sacrifice for us so important and so unmatched. Can you see how important you are in the grand scheme of creation? Can you begin to see how important you are to God?


In: Friend to Jesus
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