So far we've established that Jesus came to restore life. His mission was bigger than just forgiving sins. It was bigger than acts of love or giving hand outs to the homeless. The good news Jesus brought was a pronouncement that through him, God was reclaiming creation. God was reclaiming creation by the ministry of his Son. The reason we need this is because under our own self-autonomy, EVERYTHING is out of line. EVERYTHING is distorted. Jesus came to restore life. Now, we are asking the question, how is life distorted? What was life supposed to look like? What went so wrong that God had to send his own son to restore life? What does true life consist of? To see this, we need to go back to Creation, since everything after the Fall, humanity, or life, has been distorted.
"So God created man in his image.
In the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them."
The simplest answer to these questions about life are that humans were created to be God's image bearers. Life as God intended it to be consists primarily of bearing God's image. This is what makes us unique. This is what we were created for. This is what true life is. To give a simple definition, I'm going to say that life as God intended it to be, or true life, is living in a full expression of our image bearing. But what does it mean to bear God's image?
I propose that in the Creation account, we find 4 relationships which humans, as God's image bearers, were created for. Together, these four relationships make up a full expression of image bearing, or according to our definition above, true life. Let's look at these relationships. (I am going to unpack each one in the days to come, this is more of a fly by)
First and foremost, the primary relationship which humans were created for was our vertical relationship with our Creator. I say this is the primary relationship because without the proper vertical relationship with our Creator, all of the other relationships with be out of whack. Our other relationships are completely contingent on our relationship to God. If we wrongly relate to our Creator, we can't possible properly relate to his creation. To have true life, to live in a full expression of our humanity, we must have an unbroken relationship with our Creator.
The following three relationships are what I call "horizontal" relationships. They are the result of our primary relationship and have to do with God's creation. One of these relationships is our relationship with our self. As image bearers, we were meant to have a self-image based on our vertical relationship with God. More on this relationship in the days to come. Next, in the creation account we see that as humans, we were meant to live in relationship to others. Humans were not created on an island. God never intended us to live in isolation. Therefore, part of what it means to live in a full expression of our humanity is to live in community. Lastly, as God's image bearers, we were given a particular relationship to the rest of creation. There is way to much to say here in this quick fly by, but the Genesis account is clear that humans were meant to live life with a harmonious relationship with creation. This consists of having dominion over God's creation. We'll talk more about that later.
From this post (I know it was brief and I didn't say a whole lot), all I'm trying to establish is that to live in a full expression of what it means to be human, to have life as it was intended, we must have all 4 of these relationships. They must be unbroken and exist in harmony. Further, for them to do this, they must exist under a unhindered vertical relationship with our Creator. Once our vertical relationship is out of line, all of the other relationships follow suit.