By Maghan Smethurst
Genesis 1: 27-28
So, what do you do? It’s a question that pops up in almost every introductory conversation, right behind your name and where you’re from. Believe it or not, job descriptions date back to the first page of your Bible.
“In the beginning,” God reveals himself to be an orderly and intentional Creator. In the first chapter of the Bible, we see he fashions with purpose and assigns duties to his created things. Earth: bring forth food. Great lights: rule the day and night. Birds and creatures: fill the earth. As life and order spring into being, a drumbeat reverberates across the page: “And God saw that it was good.”
In verse 27, attention shifts to the pinnacle—the crescendo—of his creative work:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
And in the following verse, God assigns the first couple their task:
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the seas and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Scripture announces that God created us “in his image” to be reflections of the divine on earth. Just as kings in ancient times would set up statues or “images” on the highest peaks to display their fame and rule, we too are intended to point beyond ourselves to the Maker of heaven and earth.
Notice that God made both male and female in his image. The New Testament insistence on gender equality (Gal. 3:28; 1 Pet. 3:7), then, isn’t anything new; it appears on the very first page of Scripture. There’s no “one-upping” here between genders, since each is endowed with the honor of imaging and glorifying the King. Male and female are gloriously equal in the eyes of God.
But equal does not mean equivalent. We’re equal because we’re both image bearers, not because we’re the same. Just as the persons of the Trinity enjoy equality of worth with distinction in role, so those fashioned in the triune image flourish with distinction in the context of equality. The unity-in-diversity of the genders mirrors the unity-in-diversity of the Godhead.
In verse 28, God deploys the image bearers to “fill,” “subdue,” and “have dominion over” his creation. The implication is that Adam and Eve are to expand the borders of Eden, keeping and cultivating the land until the entire earth resembles the garden. Their royal mission is to reproduce God’s image (“be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth”) and to rule on God’s behalf (“subdue it and have dominion”).
So how do you and I fit into this royal calling to reflect God’s glory and rule his world? Adam and Eve failed in their calling, as have we. Made in God’s image, we’ve all clamored to turn the tables and make God in our own image. Rather than honoring the Ruler of all, we’ve rejected him and attempted to run things ourselves. So instead of expanding Eden, Adam and Eve were expelled from it—and that’s where we find ourselves as sinners today, outside the presence of God.
However, in the fullness of time God sent his Son to succeed where Adam and Eve failed. As the one who rules and fills all things (Eph. 1:22-23), Jesus is everything they—and we—were not.
Sisters, whether you’re studying for class or heading into work or changing a diaper or laying down your weary head after yet another long day, take heart that through the work of Jesus God’s broken image is being beautifully restored—day after day after day—in you (Col. 3:10).
“So what do you do?” Most fundamentally, I rest in the performance of Another.
Maghan Smethurst is a wife, a mom, and a student pursuing a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling at Southern Seminary. She and her husband Matt live
in Louisville, Kentucky, where they belong to Third Avenue Baptist Church.
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