How Are We To Live? Part-1 (Introduction & Creation)
As we begin our entrance into another year as image-bearers, I’d like to consider the motivation we employ in living our day-to-day lives. Whether “Christian” or not, every human being is, by God’s definition, an “image-bearer” and therefore obligated before God to live in a certain way. Though every Christian would agree with the general principle that we all (Christian and non-Christian) are to live our lives to the glory of God, exactly how are we to accomplish this goal? Is the “Law of God” our motivation? Or is our motivation the consideration of the popular refrain, “What Would Jesus Do”? Or could it be a re-conception of the WWJD idea into, “What Would I Do” or “What Would You Do”? Exactly how does a person purpose to “live to the glory of God”? And is the how any different for the unbeliever than for the Christian? To be sure, only the Christian can live in this way; but is that to say that the Christian’s call to do so is based on radically different criteria? In other words, is the basis for the Christian’s call on his life any different than the basis for the unbeliever’s call on his life?
What is God’s call on our life? Whether you’re a Christian or not, God’s call for every human being is to “be perfect” as He is perfect. This is the fundamental requirement that God lays upon all of us. The fact that no person can answer that call in and of himself does not negate the call, though it does result in another call on our lives—the call to faith in Him, or more specifically, faith in Jesus Christ. And the first call isn’t superseded by the second call. All human beings are required to be perfect as God is perfect and, subsequently, because of our inability to accomplish the first call, we’re all called to faith in Jesus Christ. Without debating aspects of the “eternal decree”, generally speaking Christians agree that the Bible asserts both calls on all people, everywhere. The question is: What is the relationship (if any) between the calling to “be perfect” and the calling to faith in Christ? And if there is a relationship between the two, how are either of these callings (or both of them) understood in the life of a human being, whether the Christian or the non-Christian?
(When I use the masculine “his” or “him”, or even the term “man” in referring to a human being, I’m doing so for ease of use and clarity: “And God created “man” in His own image, in the image of God He created him [man]; male and female He created them [man].” Man, therefore, refers to human beings, whether male or female.)
We must first understand what it means to be “perfect”. If we look at Adam, we can easily see how both callings of God are implicated in the life of a human being. God created all things “good”; and with the completion of His creation in His “image-son” (man), He proclaimed His work “very good”. Biblically, we can speak of perfection in the created order in two senses: perfection before The Fall and perfection in the Redemptive State. There is a sense in which the Scripture speaks of Creation before the fall as “perfect”. In Eden, we see the Shalomic perfection that typifies the consummative state in the New Creation. In Eden, all is as it should be (though not what it will be): Shalom reigns as all of God’s creation exists in harmony and fullness of being. We can understand the perfection of creation as the authenticity of every created thing being fully what it was created to be, existing in this world fully aware, so-to-speak, of its created function and therefore relating with integrity, in truth to every other created thing and to the Creator Himself. And on the seventh day, God rested; all of Creation was to follow Man (Adam and Eve) into the eternal Shabbat of God’s Rest. The creation was “perfect” for its purpose. The perfection of man, specifically, was his authentic humanness as image-bearer; his calling to be perfect was the calling for him to live his life as he was created to be—an authentic human being, God’s “image-son”.
Like Adam, the call on our lives now as human beings created in the image of God is to be what we were created to be--authentic human beings who bear the image of God! To be perfect as God is perfect is for us to be fully conformed to our (created) nature. This is not something that we're called to do but something that we're called to be. God's perfection lies in the fact that He is who He is--always! Like Adam, we're called to be "perfect as God is perfect", which is to say, we're called to be who we are as image-sons--always! As a type of Christ (as Christ is the "last Adam", He is the true Man, the fountainhead of a new humanity), Adam's created "perfection" was his authentic humanity.
(to be continued...)