What's the difference between man and animals?
I would have said the difference is that man has a spirit, while animals don't.
Turns out the fact that man has a spirit, or is spiritual in a way animals are not, is a result of what really causes man to be different from animals.
Here's what makes man different from animals. In Genesis 1, ten times God speaks into existence plants and animals after their kind. He says it over and over again. After their kind. After its kind. After their kind. After its kind. Every living thing in creation was made to be like itself.
Genesis 1:26a says, "Let Us make man in Our image..."
Plants? In the image of plants.
Animals? In the image of animals.
You and me?
In the image of God.
That is what separates human beings from animals (and plants). We are the only living things in all of creation that reflect the image of God.
That's pretty amazing. Unfathomable, really.
It's also our identity. We were made in the image of God. We are shadows of God, meant to be a glimpse of His person. We, you and I, in our fallen, sinful state, still reflect God. Not by our actions, good or bad. By our very being. We can't help it. It's just how we were made. We are in God's image.
The application for me pertains to my self-image. My assignment for the week is to look in the mirror and remind myself that I am made in the image of God. That what I look like, and who I am, are exactly God's design. That the me I like or don't like is a reflection of God. That I don't have a self-image, but a God-image.
That's hard to swallow on a practical level. I look in the mirror and see flaws. How can my extra padding be a reflection of God? How can my seeming inability to hang onto friends for long periods of time be a reflection of God? How can a freaky beard that left my endocrinologist speechlessly impressed be a reflection of God? How can my reclusive, borderline-agoraphobic nature be a reflection of God?
I don't quite get it yet.
But I want to.
Abba, help me this week to cling to the truth that I am made in Your image, and please let that truth permeate and eradicate my false perceptions of who I am that hinder me from being everything You designed me to be for Your glory.