images-26My challenge for the coming year is that we develop a greater understanding of God’s imprint on us both individu- ally and corporately as His dearly loved children. God from the beginning of time has marked His own. He will at the end of time mark them once again as His own for all eternity.

What does Scripture tell us about His imprint? The first indication in Genesis 1:26 records God’s saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” God is Spirit, so being made in His image must mean some- thing more than the physical.

God imprinted mankind with His very own character. Adam and Eve knew His love in fullness of life. He walked with them in relationship and fellowship until they rebelled. In their desire to be like God, they marred His very image in themselves. Then fear replaced love.

But God, ever faithful, called Adam and Eve from their hiding into His light. Skins replaced fig leaves at the cost of blood. A promise was given that restored hope for man-kind. In the generations that followed, some accepted God’s way claiming the promise in hope. Most descendants of Adam, however, chose their own way, worshipping gods of their own creation and looking for satisfaction in that which cannot satisfy the soul.

God eventually set His covenant love on a chosen people, descendants of Abraham, through whom the ful- fillment of the promise would come. He revealed His name to the nation of Israel as Jealous. He would not share their love with other gods that they might pridefully form with hands or heart. God expressly forbade images of Himself because nothing created can capture the essence of the Creator.

Gift of Love

The basic, real, and invariable na- ture of God is love. The members of the godhead, perfect in their love for each other, had no need for mankind to complete them. Rather they created mankind as an expression of that love. Here was a creature made in their likeness with the capacity to know and love. Here was one who could glorify his creator and enjoy Him forever as no other.

When Jesus, the fulfillment of the covenant, invaded His creation as a man, He fully displayed the charac- ter of His Father and moved about at the bidding of the Holy Spirit. The three were in complete agreement re- garding the work necessary to restore the relationship. It required a perfect love gift. Hebrews 1:3 acknowledges Jesus as that gift, the radiance of the glory of God, the exact imprint of His nature, the One who upholds the uni- verse by the word of His power, the One who made purification for sins, and the One who now sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Jesus, when questioned regarding the greatest commandment, replied that the first was to love God with all that we are and that the second was to love our neighbor as ourselves. Why would He say this if the very core of God’s imprint is not love? And if love is His imprint upon His own, upon His church, upon us, what better way is there to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever than by love?

I share the concern that the apostle Paul ex- pressed for Christians in his day. According to Romans 12:2 the world constantly tries to squeeze each believer individually and the church as a whole into its mold, to get us to conform. The world wants us to love as it defines love without regard to the truth of God’s Word. The world calls for us to offer the sacrifice of non-judgmental tolerance, the sacrifice of expediency, the sacrifice of acceptance of any and all life styles and choices.

Listen to the Spirit’s call from Romans 12: Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one an- other. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it de- pends on you, live peaceably with all. Be- loved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil

We have all made vows that need to be paid along this path of genuine love. Let us be His hands of mercy. Let us be His word of hope. Let us be displays of true joy. Let us faith- fully bear the imprint of His love as individuals, as families, and as churches. Let us faithfully make His imprint upon the world-at-large. That is my challenge.

This is my prayer:

Father, let us bear Your imprint

Upon our lives today.

Forgive our prideful spirits

That make us Satan’s prey.

Father, let us be like Jesus

In all we do and say.

Forgive our rebel spirits

That demand their own way.

Father, let your Holy Spirit

Be our guide alway.

Forgive our wandering spirits

That often go astray.

Father, let us make Your imprint

On others’ lives today.

Revive our waning spirits

To serve You and to pray.