Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Do you ever feel like you haven't found your place in this world? Many of the teens and children that I work with are still trying to figure out who they are. They are still trying to find how they fit in at church, at school, and at home. As they move from child to adolescent to adult they instinctively know that their role has changed, but they sometimes struggle to figure out what it is. Nowadays, more than just teenagers struggle with this. It is increasingly the case that all ages of adults at some time or other also struggle with this question. What is my role in this world?
Generally when we ask this question we mean it in a deeply personal sense, but nonetheless the above passage of Scripture can help. It tells us first off that we are made in God's image. Now a lot of books have been written about what that means. Some think that we are in God's image because we are rational creatures, or because we have free will, or because we were built for relationships. We aren't going to probe too deeply into that just here, but suffice it to say that, at the very least, it means that you are very valuable. Notice that later in Genesis 9:6 God appeals to the fact that all humans are image bearers as the reason that it is wrong to kill another human being. To strike at them is to strike at the image of God. So from the very first we know that we are creatures of special worth.
Second, we know that we were created to rule. At times we have abused this power, but the fact of the matter is that God has given us dominion over His creation. One of my seminary professors explained it to me like this: he said that humans are priests and kings. Here in Genesis 1:28 we are kings. We rule the world as God's appointed vice-regents. We represent God and His authority to all the rest of creation. Because His image is upon us we have been given dominion over the earth and we rule as His servants. But elsewhere in Scripture we are also priests (see I Peter 2:4-12). We serve God by bringing all of the praise and worship that He is due on behalf of His creation before His throne. You may still be searching for how to specifically live this out in your life, but know that you are called to be a priest and a king. You have been given dominion over creation and you are called to bring worship to God on behalf of His creation.
Lastly, I just want to point out the supreme goodness of our God. In verse 28 we see what God's first act toward mankind was after creating them. "He blessed them." That this is presented as God's first act toward us is so very fitting for we serve a God who has been pouring out blessing after blessing upon mankind ever since that day. James says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17). Rest assured dear believer that every good thing you have ever experienced, every joy, every contentment, every smile, every bit of happiness has come down from your Father in heaven. You are not out of place. You are not without purpose. "You are fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). "He has prepared good works in advance for you to do" (Ephesians 2:10). Ask Him to reveal those good works to you. Don't take God's blessing for granted. Don't forget to lift up worship to His throne as a faithful priest. And don't forget that you have been given authority by the Almighty. "If God is for you, who can be against you?" (Romans 8:31)
For further reading...
- Genesis 9:5-6: The fact that you bar the image of God gives you special worth in God's eyes.
- I Peter 2:4-12: You are a priest.
- James 1:16-18: Every good gift comes from Him.