When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
—Psalm 8 verses 3–4, ESV
There is something quite spectacular about realising how insignificant you are. Coming to understand that you are a speck of dust in this vast universe is nothing short of terrifying, humbling, and joyful.
You may ponder how that can be true. How can seeing my immense insignificance make me overjoyed? Perhaps an illustration will help. Imagine two men, one journeys to the Grand Canyon and beholds the enormous chasms, beautiful colours and intricate textures. The other stands in a room full of mirrors, watching himself from every angle. Who do you think would come away feeling more terrified, humbled and joyful? The man in the mirror looking at his aging exterior, or the man beholding the glory of God in the indescribable landscape?
There's something about the splendour of nature that leaves us in awe. The blooming buds, the cerise sunset, or the effortless melodies sung by neighbourhood birds. Each point us to the creativity and limitless beauty of the Creator. As Christians, we likely all experience moments of this appreciation, but do we ever stop to think deeply about how God thinks of mankind?
In Psalm 8, after naming the universal work of God's fingers, David puts out this very question. "What is man, that you are mindful of him?" When looking at his creation, the great moon and stars, why would God be mindful and care for us little specks of dust?
God creates stars with his fingers, and man is infinitely small compared to the Earth, the moon, and the millions of stars around us. We can see this natural contrast articulated by John Piper as "the point of the universe is that God is great and man is infinitely less great." So why would God care about us? Summed up,it is because we are made in his image.
Firstly, we have to understand what being made in the image of God means. It could be that we show stunning creativity like he does. But when we see little insects dancing artistically to woo a mate, or whales making elaborate calls to their family, we see we are not alone in our creativity.
Instead, it could be that our intellect is unsurpassable. Alas, the complex thought patterns of dolphins have been observed, and even pigs are said to be highly intelligent. Are we worth our "made in the image of God" title because of our advanced emotional and moral capability? Anybodywho owns a dog that has eaten an entire chocolate cake right before you walked in the room will know that we are not the only mammals capable of feeling guilt and shame.
So what separates us from our feline friends and bovine buddies? Jesus.
We are made in the image of God because we are the only beings with souls for which Jesus died.
Author Ellen White writes:
The worth of a human soul can be estimated only by the light reflected from the cross of Calvary. So terrible was the doom of the lost race, so great the glory to which the redeemed might be exalted, that the Father is satisfied with the infinite price which he pays for their redemption. It was the joy set before Christ in accomplishing so great salvation, that led him to submit to shame, agony, and death. How do all the treasures and the glories of earth sink into insignificance when compared with the value of a human soul!
So it is only in light of Jesus' work that we find our worth, not because we are as smart as God, or on par with his creativity, or can understand his moral commands. Jesus, the majestic Creator, took on flesh and walked among us, and was crucified by the hands of those He created. We are not worth anything without his saving grace, and yet he saved us because he deemed us worthy.
Christian, you can begin to live out the glory you have been promised. Our glorification, which will be complete when Jesus returns, has begun as we are "conformed to the image of his Son" (Romans chapter 8, verse 29). Grip your soul upon Jesus and his glory as the "founder and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews chapter 12, verses 1–2).
Only by holding tight to him can we see our true worth of being made in the image of God, whereby"we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. (2 Corinthians chapter 3, verse 18)
First published April 14, 2014
Harriet Knox has almost finished her Commerce and Arts degrees, and works for the New Zealand government.
Harriet Knox's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/harriet-knox.html