Resembling God

To the reader:
The coming weekly meditations will address our students as stamped with the image of God. This week we begin by noting that we look like him in important ways. Later meditations are about representing God in the world, and living relationally with God and others.

Resembling God

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
– 2 Corinthians 3:18

We love to look at a new-born child, and marvel at the way she is made. How could tiny feet and hands, a beating heart, and blue eyes be formed in just nine months? We look closer, and we realize that little baby looks just like her mother. She has the same chin, same dimples, same eyes. Amazing.

We observe the teen-age boy, and we note how he takes on the ways of his parents. “The apple doesn’t fall from the tree,” we like to say. We’re not surprised when children resemble their parents, and we shouldn’t be surprised when our students resemble their Maker. They are
made in God’s image, and, by his grace, they are being conformed continually into the image of his Son. If ever the Christian school and home needed a rationale for existing, this is it! They are key agencies to be about God’s business of assisting students to be more like Christ. This is their glory and it comes to them from the Lord, who is the Spirit. Clearly, our children can’t be reduced to just so many biological and mental characteristics. They have those characteristics, but they are so much more than that!

It’s not surprising that theologians have written much about how humankind is stamped with the image of God. C. John Collins in his excellent book, Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care, gives a helpful summary of theological writings about image-bearing. Traditionally, says Collins, theologians have said that bearing the image of God means that we resemble God in important ways. Because we are God-resemblers, we can reason, connect with others, appreciate beauty, make more choices, and show passion. God is a God who displays all these characters and more. Are we active and creative? So too is God, and we have him to thank for those capabilities.

When teachers enjoy the hard work of students, they should remember that God also works, and from the dawn of creation, he has enjoyed his work and called it good. Students resemble God when they solve math problems, when they prepare good meals in home economics class, when the student vocalist sings to the glory of God, and the student basketball player faithfully practices her three-point shot. God delights to see his creatures doing the things that he intended them to do.

So it makes little sense for schools to think of students as empty buckets to fill with information. It makes little sense to think learning consists in merely having teachers transfer what they know to students who then are responsible for the knowledge only for the next test. To
the extent that schools produce passive learners, they are denying, by their practice, that their students resemble their Maker. God is not an empty bucket. God is not just a receiver of information. God is not passive in the world, and neither should students be, in school. Why is it
important for students to be social, rational, moral, passionate, active, and creative in school? Because God is, and he made us to resemble him. Thanks be to him.

Clearer still we see thy hand in man whom thou hast made for thee:
ruler of creation’s glory, image of thy majesty, music, art, the fruitful garden, all the
labor of his days, are the calling of his Maker to the harvest feast of praise.

 – hymn by David Clowney

Stephen Kaufmann
Covenant College