Man As Created Person: God Must Take the Initiative
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of preaching John 13:1-20. It is a great passage, dwelling on humility, self-sacrifice, and God’s providential love and relational knowledge. One of the major topics I addressed was the way in which we need Jesus to initiate relationship with us. And the building tension with Judas, juxtaposed against Jesus’ own example, gave ample room to talk about moving from the position of rebel, into a re-prioritization of life centered on God’s own character and plan, “gospel lenses”.
During the conclusion of the message, I took some time to draw attention to the way I regularly see God work in our body, drawing things together without our intentional efforts. Books read in community, times of corporate singing, podcasts, as well as our times in small-group Bible studies, mix with the regular preaching of God’s word in ways that are unexpected, but more and more recognizable as God demonstrating his grace in Christian community.
And so I was happy to read the following earlier today as part of my class reading (for Systematic Theology 2):
Scripture teaches that God saves man by placing him into a covenant relationship with him. Since God is the Creator and man is a creature, it is obvious that God must take the initiative in placing his people in such a covenant relationship…But since man is also a person, God requires that his people fulfill certain conditions in order to enjoy the blessings of the covenant. But people can only fulfill these conditions through the enabling power of God….
Another important theological concept is that of the image of God…Because of his fall into sin, man has in one sense lost the image of God (some theologians call this the narrower or functional sense). Instead of serving and obeying God, man is now turned away from God; he is “man in revolt”; In the work of redemption God graciously restores his image in man, making him once again like God in his love, faithfulness, and willingness to serve others. Because human beings are creatures, God must restore them to his image – this is a work of sovereign grace. But because they are also persons, they have a responsibility in this restoration – hence Paul can say to the Ephesians, “Be imitators of God” (5:1).Created in God’s Image, Anthony Hoekema, pp9-10
Or hence Jesus says, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:14-17).
There is just so much overlapping goodness that it deserves a moment of pause to thank God. We don’t serve to earn a hope of glory. We serve because we have been cleansed by God and called to imitate what we see of the Father, in the Son, and through the Holy Spirit (John 13:20).
And so far, Created In God’s Image just keeps getting better and better.