“But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isiah 64:80)
This is the 4th blog in this series which began with the blog Being and Becoming Human. The previous blog is God and Humanity (II).
God is the original iconographer and Adam is the original icon of God.
Then 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 birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 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 air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
God made living icons, not ones painted on wood – icons that have eyes and see, ears that hear, lungs that breathe, minds that consciously think. God blessed those icons and as we have seen even bestowed His glory on the humans created in God’s own image and likeness. Additionally, by breathing His breath, the Holy Spirit, into the dust of the earth when God created humans, God created us to be temples of God’s Spirit – we are to be the very place where God dwells on earth. We were created capable of bearing God within ourselves. Even more, as we have seen, we were created capable of being in union with God and in participating in the divine nature. Scripture offers us many ideas about what it is to be fully human. All of those ideas have us in relationship with our Creator. We cannot be human without God. And when God became incarnate as a Human, God fully reveals what a human is, what humanity is capable of, what humans were created to be – the very interface point between God and creation, between divinity and the physical world.
God also bestows upon humanity an ability to be creative as God is creative. Humans are able to procreate beings in their own image and likeness as well. God bestows upon the first human the gift to continue being an iconographer:
“When Adam had lived a hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.” (Genesis 5:3)
Humans indeed share in God’s image and can conform themselves to God’s likeness. As we saw in the previous blog:
“The human vocation is to fulfil one’s humanity by becoming God through grace, that is to say by living to the full. It is to make of human nature a glorious temple. . . . ‘Every spiritual being is, by nature, a temple of God, created to receive into itself the glory of God.’ (Origen…)” (Olivier Clement, THE ROOTS OF CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM, p 76)
We are icons of God, and God’s original temple.
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? … For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
“But he [Jesus] spoke of the temple of his body.” (John 2:21)
“The God of gods, and Lord of lords (compare Deuteronomy 10:17; Joshua 22:22) created our soul to be a dwelling place, a temple for Himself. Let us, therefore, hold our soul in great respect, keeping it from becoming corrupted by inclining toward something lower than itself—meanwhile keeping our desires and hopes centered on this invisible presence of God with us.” (Jack Sparks, VICTORY IN THE UNSEEN WARFARE, p 98)
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? …. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
“You are accustomed to look upon your body as upon your own inalienable property, but that is quite wrong, because your body is God’s edifice.” (St. John of Kronstadt, MY LIFE IN CHRIST Part 1, p 25)
God created us humans for a purpose – to be His dwelling place on earth, to be His temple and his priests, to unite earth to heaven, to transfigure and transform all of creation into a communion with the Creator. Even more we were created to be in union with the Holy Trinity, and through us all creation was to be united to God.
“For man can be truly man—that is, the king of creation, the priest and minster of God’s creativity and initiative—only when he does not posit himself as the ‘owner’ of creation and submits himself—in obedience and love – to its nature as the bride of God, in response and acceptance. And woman ceases to be just a ‘female’ when, totally and unconditionally accepting the life of the Other as her own life, giving herself totally to the Other, she becomes the very expression, the very fruit, the very joy, the very beauty, the very gift of our response to God, the one whom, in the words of the Song, the king will bring into his chambers, saying: “thou are all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee’ (Ct. 4:7) (Alexander Schmemann, FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD, p 85)
Next: Being and Becoming Human: An Excursus on the Holy Spirit