What makes man different from all the animals? Why don’t dogs wrestle with the meaning of life? Why don’t animals develop justice systems, or debate morality, or develop language for that matter? Why don’t they develop systems of governance, or thoughtfully improve the world around them? Why don’t they write songs or poetry? Why don’t they engage in monogamous romantic relationships? Why don’t they invent or create? Stated very simply, humans are not advanced or highly evolved animals. We are not now, nor have we ever been, primates. While we may have similar physiologies to animals, the comparison really ends there. Humans were given a gift that the animals were not. Humans were created in the image of God.
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26a;27)
God stamped into the human nature an image of himself. Intelligent, emotional, creative, with an internal sense of justice, a desire for order, and a desire to take their surroundings and improve them. They, male and female, are a royal-creatures. They are vice-regents who serve under God as caretakers of the earth.
“And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26b)
Humans were given by God what the Bible calls, “dominion” in the earth. That does not mean that we are to be petty dictators. We are to reflect the power, beauty, and glory of our creator. We are to rule as He rules, graciously and mercifully, always seeking the good of others, and the good of the world in which we live. We are to think God’s thoughts after Him and to do the actions that He himself would do. This is what it means to glorify God. It is to mimic Him, to imitate Him. It is also the essence of what it means to be human.
But, what specifically does it mean to glorify God? The above is true, but vague. People have different notions of good, truth, and beauty. They understand purpose and meaning differently. The Scriptures solve this issue of disunity by providing for all of mankind four basic mandates that we are all to fulfill. These are the ways we extend a gracious dominion in the earth, taking the decision from out of our hands. These are the “Creation Mandates”… (1) Fruitfulness, (2) Marriage and family, (3) Learning and Laboring, and (4) Resting and worshiping the Triune God.
“And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth…. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 1:28;2:3)
Soli Deo Gloria!