Be Godlike

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Image credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/hamed/2282360160/">Hamed Saber</a>

Genesis 1:24-31

Then God said, “Animals!” And all kinds of animals – wild animals, tame animals, huge animals, and microscopic insects – began to wander all over the earth.

God saw how good they were. So then, God said, “Humans, like us! Who will be responsible for the fish, birds, animals, and insects!”

In this way God made humans to be like God. Male and female were made like God.

God blessed them and said, “Procreate. Fill the earth. Take charge of things. Be responsible for the fish, birds, and animals.” God said, “You can eat any kind of plant you want. And any of the animals can eat any of the plants.”

So that’s how it was. God saw that everything was really awesome. And so continued evening and morning. Day 6.

This first version of the creation story pictures humans as “like God.” Lots of people have speculated about what this means. Some suggest that it refers to the human capacity for creation, or imagination. I like those suggestions. This is the most verbose God has been in the entire six day process, though, and God mentions nothing about creativity or imagination. Instead, God’s words define humans in two distinct ways:

  1. Initiative. The human likeness to God involves the capacity to be in charge. Humans are Godlike because they initiate. Initiation may involve creativity, of course, but it goes beyond creativity. It’s the difference between imagining something, even designing something, and starting something. It could be something that’s been started before. Some processes need to be started over and over again. Without someone with the capacity to start them, without initiative, nothing happens. To be godlike is to start things.
  2. Responsibility. The human likeness to God also involves being responsible. It means taking a personal ownership and stake in what’s happening, and to bear the consequences of the actions one initiates. It means having the capacity to respond, to change course, to intervene, to take corrective action. Implicit in this is the understanding that creation is going to need some tweaking as things go along. It may be completely begun, but it’s only just getting started. It’s going to require course-corrections.

Initiative and responsibility frame the beginning and end of the creation. Start things, and take ownership of the results of what you started. Be godlike. It’s really awesome.