THE ANSWER: The Good News
In the beginning, before the foundation of the world, Jesus was foreknown to bring forth the Father’s love and life into the world (see 1 Peter 1:20). This was and still is His will for humankind.
We are to rule in the image of God in Jesus.
We also find in the Bible that God said, “Let us create man in our image, after our likeness and let them rule” (see Genesis 1:26).
What is God’s image and what is it to image God? This is an essential question for those who have accepted the status of representing God and seek to reflect Him. It means for humans to have dominion on earth, (see again Genesis 1:26) to have a status of God’s earthly representative. All humans have this status regardless of their skills set or abilities. The critical part in imaging God is that we follow Him as He clarifies and directs within a relationship, with Him and one another. There are no self-taught imagers in the Kingdom of God.
What does it mean to rule? If we are to rule like God, we are to reflect His nature on earth. To steward the Earth after the nature of God. So, for us to rule at its core is to love as God loves us. Perhaps this is obvious, but perhaps not. We read in Genesis with Adam and Eve that they were in a garden and were told to tend that garden. They were to rule over it. Adam named the animals for he had dominion on the Earth. From that point on, they (Adam and Eve and all their descendants) were to care for God’s Creation. He commanded them to be fruitful and to subdue the entire Earth. In this process of subduing they in innocence were to continually mature by trusting God’s Word alone. By trusting in God’s Word alone, they would bring forth His glory and will. History tells us however humanity has never followed this order of rule.
Headship is vital in imaging God. It is a well-known example from the Bible that God’s call on human beings to image Him is developed through the family. A family produces a spirit of relationship with one with another and sets a pattern of what they will image with their lives (1 Corinthians 11:3, 11-12; Ephesians 5:21-30; Colossians 3:17-21).
Headship has to do with the flow of glory manifesting through love. It is not about who is in charge, but rather who is in submission to the Sovereign. We see this worked out in Genesis as well.
God created His son Adam in His image.
From Adam, God made Eve.
After that, all human life came through woman leaving man and woman equal in status as image bearers of God the Father. We should notice that men hold the position of headship in the family unit. Life though it comes through women like a shadow of all life coming through Christ. The seed of that life (coming from a man) is a reflection of God the Father commanding the creative process to begin.
Through the Scriptures we see (the flow of glory):
God the Father
Jesus the Son
God the Father and God the Son are equal in status as God. So also, men and woman are equal in status as humans. Moreover, just as the Father God is head over the Son God so man is head over the woman and all are to be in submission to God. God the Father alone is Sovereign over all.
All are in submission to God in their roles with the order He created that they might love as God Himself loves and has commanded. God the Father is reflected in Jesus the Son (John 4:34, 8:28, 10:30, 14:7-9). Human beings who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior (meaning they live and are learning to live as He lives) are reflections of Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 2:21). This means headship is about the flow of glory from God to us in divine ordained order. To truly be Human is to be the reflection of God on Earth and will always remain the standard thanks to the witness of Jesus Christ.
The enemy undermines the means by which God desires to mature His imagers. It is in thinking about headship in the family that we, especially in our modern and postmodern culture, come upon a sharp disagreement about the topic of headship. This is due to the current emphasis of equality without the headship of Christ in mind. There was and is a significant disruption in the flow of glory which is called sin and is reflected in a culture that rebels from God’s good order.
The Great Disruption: Fallen Man Without God
For many generations, God let human beings live in their fallen state (with a disruption in the flow of glory). However, a Promise existed for future redemption of a renewed human state for those that believe in God’s sovereignty. Even though that Promise existed, humanity didn’t put trust in God, but trust in their own understanding (not living by faith). They were self-focused lusting after selfish desires, imaging created things and or persons rather than imaging God (see Romans 1:25).
Two great examples of this sin disruption (since we have been thinking much about Genesis) in the Bible are The flood and the tower.
The need for the flood (see Genesis 6-9) God floods the world for His name sake to save humanity from extinction as His imagers. Human corruption as God foretold indeed lead to death for all save Noah’s family.
The Tower of Babel (see Genesis 11) At the tower story we see again Humanity proclaim they will use their status as one created in the image of God to make a name for themselves. Rather than reflect God on earth. At this point in history, God exiles Humanity from a personal relationship with Him as their God. He then establishes the nations. Turning those nations over to other powers for parentage under his sovereign rule, save one nation whom He establishes in the call of a man named Abram, who the Bible says believed God. (Deuteronomy 4:19-20, 32:8-9, Acts 17:26-27)
The Great Plan of God to Restore the Reflecting Flow of Glory
After this point in human history, God birthed His own nation through whom He intended to draw humanity fully back into imaging Him as the rulers on Earth (Genesis 12:3; Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 7:23; Ezekiel 36:28; Zechariah 2:11). The Apostle Paul also states in the New Testament that men and women find God through submitting to God’s sovereignty expressed by the Jews (Romans 1:17, 2:9-10). Salvation is through the Jewish people because God (YHWH) was their Personal God.
God the Father made covenants with men (in the line of Jesus of Nazareth) and gave the Law to His own nation Israel. These are His people. These are the people of the Messiah. These are the people through whom God would allow humanity to survive. At the center of those people and their existence is trust in God. God brought into the world through His own nation (the Jews) and life (Christ) the rule of the Age to Come. Because of this, all peoples have the opportunity to be as God intended. His intention is for them to image Him on earth and in this way rule.
Now in order to image God properly, you have to know who He is, right?
God gives Israel the Law and only Israel because it was through this particular nation that He would send His Son, “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). Now the Israelites were under the taskmaster of the Law (Galatians 3:23-26) so that they might remain the chosen people that would bring forth the promise made to Abraham and His seed the Messiah. Under the Messiah (Jesus the Son), they would find redemption.
This would create them as a new creation the image of God under the Messiah’s rule. The Gospel is about bringing forth the glory and will of God the Father from heaven to Earth. The Gospel is about so much more than merely saving humanity from doom. The Gospel is about so much more than saving us from Hell. God’s will for humanity is seen in the Person of Jesus Christ and only those who image Him rule. The Gospel is all about God and we share of His eternal life when we image Him. This is done in Messiah Jesus alone.
Now to image God accurately, you have to know who He is, right?
Hence the heavy emphasis in Christianity on knowing Jesus relationally. This is why people say Christianity is not a ritual, but a relationship. Jesus Christ was The Man in whom the fullness of God dwelt. He was the pure image of His Father.
A proper place of imaging God
To rule in the Messiah’s Kingdom is not to rule by worldly force. To rule in the Messiah’s Kingdom means to serve others. This means whatever we do in Christ reflects God’s nature on Earth.
We are to turn from sin and image God. We are made for just that purpose. In knowing God, we will learn better and better how to image Him more abundantly. This brings real meaning to our life and the lives we relate to by His Grace.
We must not submit just to get saved, but rather submit to the Will of God within His submissive order. In His order, there is rest in the salvation of imaging God made possible through the purification found in Christ’s Death and Resurrection. God being God accomplishes this. Jesus being Jesus accomplishes this because He faithfully images God the Father.
Undeniably, we see this fully revealed in a human at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On the cross, the Messiah images God His father. Jesus overcame sin and death at the place of mercy offering His forgiving nature. We received purification, meant for all with contrite hearts who place their faith in His person. Jesus, the God-Man, was faithful to God’s covenant promise to Abraham and Jesus Himself was loyal to God His Father. He now offers life continual in the age to come for those willing to follow Him in manifesting God’s will on Earth.
John 17:20-23 says, “My prayer is not for them alone. I also pray for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”