The Story of Christmas, PART I of IV: In the beginning…
Before baby Jesus in a manger, we have an entire book of triumph and regret. Scandals, lust, revenge, and battles. It’s a story full of mistakes. And second chances. And at the very start of this collection of tales, the narrative runs something like this: A perfect, all-powerful deity creates the stars and planets. Night and day, land and water. “Let-there-be”-and-there-was. “Let-there-be”-and-there-was. And in this pattern, He breathes life into all of these incredible creatures. And after each phase of creation, he states “It is good.” Which is to say that all of creation is inherently good when it was made.
What do we know about God so far? All we know is that this all-powerful deity is a Good-Maker. He makes it, and it is good.
And then things get interesting. This deity changes the formula saying “Let us make man in our image.” Using the “royal we,” (a la Jeffrey Lebowski) this new undertaking is a huge shift from the rest of creation. For the first time in the story, God is making something that resembles God. A sequoia is an incredible creation- but it’s not as majestic as God. A distant star larger than 500 of our Suns combined is an incredible creation, but it’s not made in the image of God. And yet humanity- (these fragile collections of skin and bones) have been made in the image of the Maker himself. Like God. God-like.
Which begs the question: how is humanity God-like? Which attributes do we possess of the deity who made all things? Well, at this point in the story, the only thing that we know about God, is that he is The Maker, a creator of good. So if we’re like God then we must be makers as well.
Yes, humanity is unique on the planet. The tiger has her terrifying beauty. The elephant has her trunk. But humanity alone has her creative power. Her ability to reason. To imagine a new reality and bring it into existence. We begin by asking beautiful questions like: “what if?” and “I wonder?” A car, a garden, a relationship: we dream these things up all the time. Humanity creates her own future by imagining what could be.
Of course, this creative imagination of ours has its limits. Unlike the God of creation, we cannot speak worlds into existence. We cannot separate night from day. But we can dream up computers and electricity and cities of our own. This is a power unparalleled in the natural worlds. This capacity to create has been granted to man alone.
“Let us make man in our image.”
“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet. In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them.”