It seems as if the main goal or the over-riding obsession in many Christian circles today is just to get blessings or to be blessed! Now, aside from our fundamental failure to understand that God has already blessed us with every blessing we will ever need (See Ephesians 1:3 and 2 Peter 1:3. Our real need is not for blessings or to be blessed more, but rather, to know how to access and appropriate the blessings we already have!), this emphasis on blessings also indicates another fault in our spiritual understanding. Let me show you what I’m talking about!
In God’s economy, blessings are not, and were never meant to be, the end, but rather, the means to the end! In other words, blessings were never meant to be our destination, but rather the means, tools, or vehicles used to aid and assist us in reaching our destination. When we are so captivated and fixated on blessings, we’re just like a person, so in love with their new car that they just drive around, without ever going anywhere! It is a ridiculous situation for a person to have a vehicle, only to use it to drive around, not understanding that the real purpose of the vehicle is not just to be driven around, but to be actually used to get from point A to point B! In like manner, many Christians are trying to exercise their faith to obtain blessings to just ‘drive around’ with no clue that the real purpose of blessings is transportation and facilitation!
So, when we make blessings or being blessed the main goal or objective, we err on two points! We err by trying to get what we already have! And then, we err by making the means the end instead of understanding the means’ purpose is to help us get to the end! Being blessed or having blessings without understanding their purpose to assist in reaching the destination is not enough! God created and blessed us for much more than that!
In Genesis 1:28, we read: “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.” (ESV) Notice the wording of the text! God didn’t just bless them to bless them; God blessed them so that they would be in position to do something! God blessed them in order for them to fulfill their purpose, which was to be fruitful (productive), multiply, fill and subdue the earth, to have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living thing on the earth! They were blessed for the purpose of fulfilling their assignment! That’s the principle! God doesn’t bless just to bless; God blesses to enable, to empower, to facilitate the execution of His will! The mandate has not changed! The same order given to Adam and Eve has been passed down to us! We are not blessed just to be blessed, we are blessed in order to have and exercise dominion!
Now, what does it mean to have and exercise dominion? What was God doing in Genesis 1:28? God was commissioning Adam and Eve as His proxy rulers on earth! God blessed Adam and Eve so that they might rule the earth in His stead! The emergence of sin DID NOT negate or cancel the Dominion Mandate! In fact, that’s why Jesus came! Jesus came to deal with sin so that, through him, man’s capacity to fulfill the Dominion Mandate might be restored!
Oh! We are so limited and little in our thinking! While we are running around making what we already have the focus of our faith, God has a much grander idea for us! We just want to be blessed, but God wants us to be ‘god’ on earth! God wants us to be Him on earth! (I realized I am treading on what some might perceive to be slippery theological turf here. That’s why I used a little ‘g.’ We are not gods in the sense that we are deity, but rather in the sense that our purpose is to function as God’s representatives upon the earth.) Hence, our main objective should not be for God to bless us just so we might be healthy, wealthy, and wise, but rather our main objective should be that God might execute His will upon the earth through us! I heard a song, not too long ago, and the singer was pleading: “Lord, whatever You’re doing in this season, don’t do it without me!” Now, I understood what the author of the song was saying; he, himself, personally wanted to be a partner with God in whatever God is going to do. But, whatever God is going to do in this season will only be done through us! God only rained down meat and bread from Heaven one time! His normal means of feeding us when we’re hungry is to use our neighbor to do it!
The bottom line is that God’s purpose in blessing us is so that we might be a blessing-hose, not a blessing-pool! God’s intent is not for blessings just to flow ‘to’ us; but rather for blessings to flow ‘through’ us! Blessings are meant to be tools to be used, not just items to be consumed! So, if your main goal and pre-occupation is just to be blessed; being blessed is not enough, God wants so much more than that for you! His purpose in blessing you is that you might be (represent) Him wherever you are!
There has been much ink spilled over the meaning of Genesis 1:26-28: “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.’ So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (KJV) So, this is not an attempt to rehash the ideas that have already been put forth as to what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God. Instead, I want to suggest a slight adjustment in our thinking.
When I was a boy, I grew up in a time when automobile and other small engines still had carburetors. (For those of you too young to know what a carburetor is, it basically served the same function as fuel injectors do today, but it was less efficient and more finicky!) My dad worked as a greens-keeper at a golf course and during his spare time, he would often work, doing minor repairs to automobile and lawn mower engines. I remember quite vividly that often my father would be working on an engine and after he thought it was repaired, he would attempt to crank it. Many times, after incessantly pulling the rope on a lawn-mower engine or turning the key in the ignition of an automobile, the engine would stubbornly refuse to start. It was at that point, my dad would do something, that would make the difference between successfully starting the engine or flooding (too much gas in the carburetor) the engine. He would take a screw-driver and slightly turn the screw of the value that controlled the flow of gas into the carburetor. After my dad did that, nine times out of ten, the engine would start! That is what I suggest we do in our thinking concerning man being created in the image and likeness of God; not a major shift in our thinking, just a slight turn of the carburetor screw!
Are you ready? Here it is: Instead to thinking of man as being created ‘in’ the image of God, what if the meaning the Genesis author really sought to convey was that man was created ‘as’ the image of God? The preposition ‘in’ allows for such an interpretation. If I said: “I work in a bank.” You would hear the word ‘in’ but you would understand I work ‘as’ a banker, a teller, a loan officer, or whatever capacity at a bank. Using that same line of logic, when you look at what follows in the Genesis text, it is obvious that God’s intent was for man to function as God’s representative on the earth! What I am suggesting is that, it could be; the image of God is not a capacity that man has, but rather it is the essence of what man is! Maybe the author’s intent was not so much to convey that God created man ‘in’ God’s image, but rather that God created man ‘as’ God’s image!
Now, this gets all the more interesting when we consider the Greek word the Septuagint (The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible: OT) uses in that verse to denote the idea of image. It is the word from which we get the English word; ‘icon.’ When I looked it up in the various Greek dictionaries and lexicons, a couple of definitions jumped up and grabbed my attention. This is what is found in the Friberg Analytical Greek Lexicon: “(1) as an artistic representation, such as on a coin or statue image, likeness; (2) as an embodiment or living manifestation of God form, appearance; (3) as a visible manifestation of an invisible and heavenly reality form, substance.” Note, definitions 2 and 3! And then, look at what TheBible Knowledge Commentary says: “Human life was created in (lit., “as,” meaning “in essence as”) the image of God.” All this time, we have been thinking ‘in,’ when the real truth just might be ‘as!’
As I was pondering the implications of this, I ran across some biblical texts that seem to imply that perhaps my reasoning is correct. The Apostle Paul made a statement in 1 Corinthians 11:7 that is very interesting! Now, he made the statement in the context of proper cultural protocol in regard to men and women covering their heads (or not) while they prayed or prophesied. Now granted, when Paul spoke of ‘man’ in this context, he was referring to the male gender of the species, but nevertheless, could not what he said be applicable to the species in general? He said: “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.” (KJV) Aside from the cultural specifics of covering the head, Paul plainly said: “He (man) is the image and glory of God.” Note also, that he said the woman was the glory of the man, but he didn’t say the woman was the image of the man! In Colossians 1:15, Paul says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. In Romans 8:29, he says that God predestined us to be conformed to the image of his (God’s) son. Now, don’t get lost; follow the dots: Man was created as the image of God! Because of sin, that image is marred and tarnished! Jesus, who is the perfect image of God, came to redeem humanity and to restore that image. Hence, God’s purpose is that we might be conformed to the image of Jesus, who is the image of God! When we conform to the image of Jesus, who is the image of God, we are conformed to the image of God, which is the image God made us as in the first place!
Now, what are the implications of this? How does this change the way we think, pray, or do God’s will? Well first, once we internalize this slight turn of the carburetor screw into our spirits and minds, we will truly understand and appreciate how God works in the earth realm. We will cease to believe in magic and begin to believe in God! We will realize that whatever God does in the earth, God does it through human agency because the very purpose of man is to be the physical, visible, embodiment of the spiritual, invisible God on earth! Hence, we will no longer foolishly blame God for the evil in the world because we will understand that the presence of evil in the world is not God’s fault or responsibility; it’s ours! There is evil in the world, not so much because God wills or allows it; but more so, because we allow it!
Secondly, we will no longer snort, cry, sling oil, or otherwise try to get God to bless us! As we refer back to the Genesis text, we should note that the text says: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them. . .” Do you see that? It didn’t say: “And God ‘was going to’ bless them.” No! It said: “And God ‘blessed’ them.” Every blessing we need to successfully be the image of God on earth, we already have! If we are experiencing a lack of the blessings necessary to function in the capacity God intended for our lives, it is because we don’t understand how to operate as the image of God! Jesus was the perfect image of God! Therefore, if we want to know how to do it, he’s the perfect example and model. He said to a crowd of people who were worried about how they were going to make it: “Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. ‘Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)
Thirdly, if we understand that all of us (saints, sinners, Black, White, Americans, Republicans, etc.,) are created ‘as’ the image of God, then we will have a newfound respect for the sanctify of human life! Racism, classicism, and all the other ‘-isms’ exist because of our ignorance of who we really are! There billions of people on the planet, and each one of us was created to ‘image’ God on the earth. Therefore, when we mistreat and abuse one another, we are, in a sense, mistreating and abusing the image of God! And when we mistreat and abuse the image of God; we mistreat and abuse the God the image represents and embodies!
Finally, once we understand and internalize this concept, we will truly understand that life is not about us! All of us are placed here to do the will of God. The purpose of the blessings in our life are not primarily for our comfort, but rather to aid and assist us in doing what God called (created) us to do! In other words, primarily, the blessings are not for our enjoyment; they are for our employment! We are blessed to be a blessing!
There is an old saying that says the eyes are the windows of the soul. Perhaps that is true, but even more than that, as we look into the eyes of another person, we must also realize we are looking into the eyes of an image of God!
 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Baker’s Greek New Testament Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 1
 Allen P. Ross, “Genesis,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 29.
Hey you!!! Yes! You! The person who is reading this post! I’m talking to you! Now, I really don’t know you, but I want you to know: I NEED YOU! Not only do I need you; THE WORLD NEEDS YOU!!! You are here in this season for a reason; to make your contribution to the solution!
The Creator of the Universe planned it so that you would be born when you were born in order that you might serve this present generation! The time, place and circumstances of your birth were all orchestrated to put you in the best possible position to fulfill your mission. Everything that has happened to you up to this point in your life was all designed to help you reach your maximum potential! Even you reading this blog entry at the time you are reading it is all part of a grand design! You see, you have a set of unique abilities, attributes, talents, and skills that no one else in the world has; that makes you very special and very precious!
Because you are so unique, precious and special, I am really pulling for you because if you don’t reach your full potential, we all lose! Your failure will not be just yours! It will be mine and it will be the world’s! For you see; if you should happen to die without or before making the contribution you were born to make, all of humanity will suffer! You were not sent here just to make a living; you were sent here to make a difference!
Therefore, I want to encourage you to not give up! I know it might be hard; but don’t give up! When the going gets difficult; don’t throw in the towel and quit! And for all of our sakes; don’t you dare commit suicide! I NEED YOU to be the best that you can be because only then will I be able to be my best! You see, I NEED YOU to complete me! You help to make me the person I am, just as I help make you the person you are! A better you makes a better me and a better me makes a better you! So, I am pulling for you!
Now in case you think I’m being overly dramatic, just think about this: What if Jesus had given up in the wilderness of temptation? Where would we be if he had decided the cross was too much to bear? What if Abraham Lincoln had given up on politics after all the defeats he had suffered before he ran for President? What if Martin Luther King Jr., had decided to be content with just being a local pastor in Montgomery, AL? What if all the inventors had given up after their first couple of failures? Now, I hear you! You’re saying: “Well, I’m no inventor and I am certainly no Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr!” And you’re right; you’re not! You are just you! But being you is enough! Being you is all you need to be because all of the people I just named were just being themselves!
I would like to suggest to you that the solutions to many of the present-day ills we are suffering in our society today just might be locked up in the minds of people who have given up on themselves! The answer to cancer could very well be locked up in the mind of some young man who is just wasting his life away, hanging out on the corner! The answer to the AIDs epidemic might be locked up in the mind of some young girl who is selling her body just to feed her babies! Some of the answers may have even died with people who were murdered in senseless killings and some of the answers may have died with some suicide victims who gave up on life!
That is why I am calling you out! I am challenging you to not give up! I am challenging you to not settle for just getting by or just being average and ordinary. I am challenging you to commit yourself to the task of reaching your maximum potential and being the best you that you were born to be! I am challenging you to commit yourself to strive to live a life of excellence! My fate and the fate of the world is depending on it! So don’t ever think that you don’t matter or that you are just a number or just a clog in the cosmic wheel! YOU ARE IMPORTANT! YOU ARE NEEDED! I NEED YOU! THE WORLD NEEDS YOU! Now, get up off of your blessed assurance and be the best you that you can be!
I posted a blog-post some time ago entitled: “The Crazy Things We Say In Church.” In that post, I listed some of the things that are commonly said in church that really don’t make any spiritual and in some cases, any common sense. Well, there is another saying that I’ve heard so much that I think it deserves a post all by itself! How many times have you been in a church service and heard an MC, a deacon, a preacher, or even a pastor say: “We’re here to have a good time”? Now, I wouldn’t have a problem with the saying if I hadn’t heard it somewhere else and it was theologically accurate!
Can you think of anyplace else where you have heard this statement? Hmm? Isn’t that what we used to say in our pre-Christian days when we were into the nightclub life? It was Friday night and we had just gotten paid so off we went to the clubs; to have a good time! Now, what’s so amazing to me is that many of us, although we now profess to know God, we go to church with a “night club mentality!” Let me show you what I’m talking about! When we were going to the club, we did not expect anything to happen at the club that would cause significant changes in our lives. We didn’t go to the club with an expectation of our lives changing for the better, we just went to have a good time! It was a hard week at work, so we went to the club to relax, forget about our troubles for a few hours, and to enjoy ourselves. Well, there are some people who go to church on Sunday mornings with the exact same expectations! They don’t expect any significant changes to occur in their lives. They don’t expect anything to happen while they are at church that will cause any significant change in their lives. They just come for an hour or two to “get their praise on!” They just come to have a good time! They left “hell” to come to church and then leave church with the full expectation to go back to the same hell they left! They don’t expect any changes. Sunday morning for them, is just a two-hour- reprieve from the hustle and bustle of everyday life!
But there is so much more to coming to church than just having a good time! Now, if you have a good time while you’re there, that’s all fine and well, but having a good time should not be the main purpose! Why should we come to church? Well, the main reason is to worship and experience the presence of God! And when we worship God, it is not about us; it’s about God! When we give God the praise and adoration of which God is worthy, our “good feeling” is just a by-product. But not only do we get a good feeling, God also moves on our behalf in our various life situations.
A good model of what should happen when we go to church in found in Isaiah’s temple vision in Isaiah 6. Isaiah “saw” the Lord, high and lifted up! When Isaiah saw how high the Lord was; he also saw how low he was! A true worship experience helps us to see the majesty and glory of God and recognize our own faults and failures. That experience caused Isaiah to exclaim (in the language of my fore-parents) “It’s not my brother! It’s not my sister, but it’s me, O Lord! Standing in the need of prayer!” Finally Isaiah was touched, cleansed, and commissioned. That’s what a real worship experience is all about! After a true worship experience; we don’t leave the same way we came! We leave with a sense of our sins forgiven! We leave with a determination and will to do the will of God! We leave stronger than we were when we came! The time we spend in worship at church is so much more than just for the purpose of having a good time!
There is a refrain repeated over and over again in the first chapter of Genesis: “And God said, let there be. . .” I don’t think the author was just repeating this for merely stylistic reasons. The authors wanted to emphasize the fact that this physical world was brought into existence via the power of God’s spoken word! The Bible says: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. (Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV) Even now, the world as we know it is sustained by the power of God’s word!
But the purpose of this post is not so much to talk about the power of God’s word, but rather the power of our word! Let me show you what I’m talking about. The same record that tells us that this world was created by the spoken word of God, also tells us that we (mankind) were created in the image and likeness of God and given dominion over the earth. Now anything that is created in the image and likeness of something or someone, also shares the characteristics and traits of the someone or something that created it! Hence, just as God has creative power in his word, we also have limited creative (or re-creative) power in our word! Therefore just as God honors and respects his word we should honor and respect of our word! Jesus said: “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (Mat 12:36 KJV) In that text, the Greek word that is translated as “idle” has the connotation of “non-working, empty or vain.” The point is that we should make every word we speak work for us and not against us! We should not talk just to hear ourselves talking, but rather we should be thoughtful and intentional with the words we speak. We should honor and respect our word in the same manner that God honors and respects his word.
Well, how do we do this? Here are just a few practical steps to help us become more intentional in making our word work for us to our advantage:
Speak only the truth and do not lie! Lying is so detrimental to the integrity of our word because our words were designed to disclose the content of our hearts and to relay the intentions of our wills. Lying causes confusion and is an improper use of our words! And besides that, lying puts us on God’s hate list (See Proverbs 6: 16-19). In addition, lying makes us more like the devil, who is described in the Bible as the “Father of lies!”
Say what you mean and mean what you say! Don’t use your word to deliberately mislead; be intentional in using your word to convey your will and intention because that’s how God employs his word! Speak intentionally and deliberately: Don’t just talk to hear yourself talking or just to be saying something!
Use your word to build up; not to tear down! The ole nursery rhyme that said: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” was not accurate! Words can wound the spirit and break the will! Words can inspire, they can also discourage! Words can build up and they can also tear down!
Speak what you want; don’t speak what you don’t want! Jesus said in Mark 11:23: “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. (Mar 11:23 KJV). It’s interesting to note that Jesus didn’t instruct his disciples to speak to God about the mountain; he told his disciples to talk to the mountain (about God?). It could very well be the reason many times our situations don’t get any better is because we keep talking to God about the problem, rather than speaking to the problem.
Your word is too important and powerful for jesting and foolish talking! Keep joking to a minimum! Honor the intentional power of your word!
Don Miguel Ruiz writes, in his work: “The Four Agreements,” “The first agreement is to be impeccable with your word . . . Why your word? Your word is the power you have to create. Your word is the gift that comes directly from God….Through the word you express your creative power. It is through the word that you manifest everything.” The Bible says: “In the beginning was the word. . .” Of course the scripture reference is the Word Incarnate: Jesus of Nazareth. But it also expresses a principle of life: Everything in our lives begins with a word, therefore, we should not only honor the word of God, but we should also honor the word of the creatures made in the image and likeness of God! We should honor our word!