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Made in the Image of a Creating God

October 18, 2012

Word Sculpture by Jonathan S.

In a Sunday School lesson on the story of creation, I ask the kids to explore what it means to be made in the image of God by noticing what God does in the story – creating, enjoying, blessing, taking care of things – and then noticing that those are things we humans do, too:

“You do those things because you are made in God’s image – made to be a little bit like God.  Of course, we aren’t as powerful as God.  We can’t actually make a tree – but we can plant one and help it grow or we can draw one or write a poem or sing a song about one.”

This idea – that we create because we are created by God – was first presented to me during my impressionable teen years in an essay by J.R.R.Tolkien called “On Fairy-Stories”. (if you’re interested:  Tolkien uses the term “sub-creator” to describe our work of imagining and describing and depicting.  We never create reality but we contribute to its depth and its comprehensibility by adding our own sub-creations.

I am still deeply moved by this idea but I want more than to be simply a sub-creator.  I want recognition that my creativity contributes more than texture, more than explanation, to reality.  I am a co-creator, invited by God to add my work to God’s work of constant creation.  I may not create reality but I can certainly change it.

Parenting is, perhaps, a fairly easy place in which to see ourselves as co-creators.  Although it is true that our children are not our creatures, it is also true that we add more than texture to their being.  This is an awesome responsibility, one that re-creates us even as it contributes to the creation of them.  Finding the balance between accepting that responsibility and claiming a power that is ultimately God’s alone is, I think, one of the great tasks of being a parent.

We were created by God, in God’s image, to work creatively with God, called into a mature collaboration of wondrous beauty.  The more fully we embrace this call – not only as parents but as humans – the more fully we will live and the more truly will God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


(originally published in the October 2012 Christ Church Cathedral Family Ministries Newsletter.  Contact Rhonda to subscribe.)


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