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5. The Image of God

The only way God can have what His heart is set upon, that is, to be seen and handled and known by His creation, both heaven and earth, is to be revealed through another, one who is just like Himself, yet with this one simple difference – man must be utterly weak. Yet man must be filled with faith, the heart of boldness that is central to the essence of God.

5. The Image of God

© Daniel Yordy 2011

I am realizing how so much can be explained by one simple piece of understanding.

God made man weak.

Man hates, despises, and loathes weak.

Weak feels wrong in every possible way to man.

“Christ as me” in essence is the “weakest” possible position for us to take. In that position we cease every attempt to “try.” I heard just this week, from a man I respect, this statement, “God is pleased when we try.” No, God is pleased when we stop trying.

The work of faith has nothing to do with “trying”; rather, it is an exultation pouring out of extreme confidence and rest. Let me repeat that.

The work of faith is an exultation
pouring out of extreme confidence and rest.

First, let’s look at why God made man weak. This is something I have voiced over and over, but each time we go over it, the reality of God becomes clearer to us. We see connections and truths we had not quite grasped before.

God has His heart set on being seen, touched, and handled by all His creation, both heaven and earth. God has His heart set on being KNOWN. But God by Himself is invisible and unknowable. Neither can God be known through that which is created. Yes, all that is created points to God in many different ways, but it is not actually God Himself revealed. First, God cannot be revealed through inanimate objects. You cannot carve a stone idol and expect God to reveal Himself through it. In other words, nothing robotic can reveal God. God can be known only through persons.

Second, God cannot be revealed through most persons, even. There are billions of angels, all of whom are waiting upon man before they can know God. Angels are persons, but they can neither know God in themselves nor reveal Him.

God can be known only through one particular means. He can show Himself as He is only through a living person, yes, but one created just like Himself, that is, in His likeness. Part of what likeness means is the capacity to contain God in a way which no other created being of any kind can contain God. But this living person must also be created in God’s image, that is, with the ability to release God Himself into a visible connection with His creation.

But the problem for God is love. God highly regards and respects every living person whom He has created. He will never ever violate the integrity of anyone’s person in any way.

So God formed His likeness and image out of the dust of the ground, breathed His life into him, and man became a living soul. God does not have two images, thus man must be created to reveal God to both heaven and earth at the same time and forever.

Now here is the thing. God can be known only through the person of another – His image, man. Yet that other is always a distinct person, and God will never violate the integrity of any person. Yet God would reveal Himself fully through that person, with no competition from any other source.

For God to be known to His creation requires a continual free-will offering of joy and communion – a mutual relationship of love and respect.

Man cannot reveal God unless he sees himself as God’s equal, eye to Eye, heart to Heart, shoulder to Shoulder. God cannot have the Desire of His Heart except through such a man.

Now, every Christian must readily admit that all this IS a description of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet He is a description of MAN as God intends to be seen through many sons, just like Jesus.

But here’s the thing, in order for this revelation of Himself through man to work, God can’t have any competition, yet He cannot violate man’s person. Any competition to God coming through man, God calls “sin.” It is a pollution of His image and God cannot be related to pollution. God will not share His glory with another, that is, God will not live in the same house with His enemies. God will not share His woman with anyone else.

Yet God cannot and will not violate man’s person, such violation is itself pollution and abhorrent to the nature and being of God.

God has His heart set on being KNOWN by His creation. There is one way only by which God can be known, that is, He must be known through another, through a special portion of His creation.

So here is the “formula” God followed in pursuing His goal of being seen, handled, and known.

This being through whom God will be known must be part of the creation, in fact, part of both sides of creation, heaven and earth, at the same time. This created being must be designed according to the model of God Himself. The likeness must be complete in every way.

Now, in order to stand with God heart to Heart, eye to Eye, this created thing God would make must be very bold; he must be filled with ambition. God is very bold; His heart is filled with faith. God expects Himself all the time; God always gets all that He expects. For man to be like God, man must be very bold; his heart must be filled with faith and confidence, with the full expectation for all of God all the time.

BUT, man’s purpose is not to “do great things,” but to reveal God. It’s God who wants to “do great things” visibly in creation, both in heaven and in earth. God cannot be “doing great things” alongside of man who is also, himself, “doing great things” separately from God. Yet God cannot “do great things” through man except man himself be filled with a heart of boldness. What God wants is man and God doing those great things together as one.

It’s simple and quite easy to understand when you know what God is about.

God made man weak. Filled with ambition, yes, but utterly weak.

God did not make angels weak. Angels are strong; they can do all kinds of wondrous things. That’s why God cannot reveal Himself through angels. Angels are not like God.

So when Alexander Pope considered the true nature of man, he said, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

Thus man is like God, not like angels. Man is filled with a heart of daring boldness. All angels do is what they are told, what is in their hand and makeup to do. Separate from God, man’s heart of daring boldness takes him into terrible and wicked things. But filled with God, man’s heart of daring bravado reverberates in tune with God’s.

Man was created to contain God; man was created to reveal God. Man cannot do that. Man cannot do or be what he is without being filled with God.

God has His heart set on being known. God cannot do that. He cannot be known; He is invisible and unknowable. God cannot do or be what He wants to do and be within His creation without man.

Now, inside of God’s creation is a false angel who has perpetrated a definition of “God” that is false. That definition is actually this false angel’s imagination about himself. Yet that false definition of “God” and reality fills all the avenues and pathways, all the definitions and ways of being inside of man on this planet.

The satanic definition of God describes someone who is tough, someone who gets His way, someone who “rules” similar to a human dictator, and so on – the top guy on the pile, someone who is far “above” with everyone else far “beneath.”

So when God does show up in human flesh, they all laugh and turn away. There is nothing about Him that impresses anyone. Then, when this “ridiculous definition of God” does wonderful things for the lowly, the despised, and the weak, they do have to pay attention. However, the moment He claims that He is actually “God in the flesh,” all of man’s false definition of God strikes out in fury and tears God apart, nailing Him in a bloody spectacle onto a piece of wood.

And then we have Christianity, which took Jesus, the description of God as He really is, and turned him back into the false image that the serpent perpetrates upon the world. All Christians continue looking for this false image to “appear” far above everyone up in the sky; they despise the thought that He could show up as someone as lowly and as ridiculous as the guy sitting next to them.

The only way God can have what His heart is set upon, that is, to be seen and handled and known by His creation, both heaven and earth, is to be revealed through another, one who is just like Himself, yet with this one simple difference – man must be utterly weak. Yet man must be filled with faith, the heart of boldness that is central to the essence of God.

So man finds himself, here upon this earth, inside the transition between the seed planted and the birthing of full reality into the universe.

And man finds himself WEAK – and – filled with a heart as bold as God.

A heart as bold as God, empty of God, becomes all that is present human ambition, a heart of darkness. Human ambition empty of God HATES weak.

And thus Adam found himself.

Now, God gave Adam a direction, a mission, a task to accomplish in these words, “Subdue the earth.” That task resonated with Adam’s heart, a heart of daring boldness just like God’s heart.

But Adam had a big problem. Though his heart was fully bold to do this thing God had given him to do, Adam had no ability whatsoever to accomplish any part of that task.

You see, Adam was not created like the angels, able to do what God appointed for them to do. Adam was created to walk in full union with God, he in God and God in him. It was God who would “subdue the earth,” yet not separately from Adam, but as one with him.

The only means by which Adam could subdue the earth as God intended was by the river of life that would flow out of his belly. That is something Adam could not produce of himself. The river of life was not yet in Adam’s belly.

It is very plain. God gave man a task to accomplish and the burning desire and ambition to accomplish that task, but with no ability whatsoever to accomplish even a tiny little bit of it. Do you see how frustrated Adam must have been?

Adam was an unfinished work. He was not completed. When Adam set out to accomplish his God-given task, he did so before God was finished “making” him.

What Adam needed to be complete was found outside of himself at that time, that is, it was found in either of the two trees that stood before him. God’s intention was for Adam to eat of the tree of life and thus be sealed into the incorruptible life of God and thus have within his belly the river of life by which he and God and God and he would subdue the earth together and by which God would be seen and known by all His creation.

You see, God made Adam a part of his own formation. God does not even create Adam apart from Adam; He does not form His image apart from working together with that image. That is a three-step formation. First, God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground. Second, God put Adam to sleep and drew his wife out of his side. Third, Adam himself was to climb the tree of life, piercing his hands and his feet, and obtain life for both himself and his wife. Thus, in eating of life, they would be forever sealed into all the fullness of God, as His image, with the river of life flowing out of their bellies to accomplish in full union with God all that God intends.

Only it was not that simple, as we know. For Adam chose to accomplish the task God had set before him by his own knowledge, by trying as hard as he could.

So, of truth, the myth of Sisyphus is the best picture there is of man under vanity, attempting to do what God Himself put in his heart to do, yet by himself and not through union with God.

The Myth of Sisyphus is a Greek myth retold by an existentialist philosopher of the mid-20th century, Albert Camus. Existentialism is the discovery by modern man that human life is indeed subject to vanity and is in itself pointless and absurd. Having removed God from their minds, they have also removed the reason why God subjected the creation to vanity — HOPE!

Sisyphus has been condemned by the gods to a particular punishment. He is bound by his nature to wrestle a large stone up a long, steep hill. He works and works, sweating and striving in every way to move the stone to the top of the hill. After great effort and much time he finally succeeds, but the moment he does so, the stone rolls immediately back down to the bottom. He cannot leave it alone; he is bound to go back down and push it up again. And so it goes forever and ever. All of his effort is pointless and absurd, yet he is bound to continue in it without hope of success.

In truth, this is the choice Adam made, to become this Sisyphus. Sisyphus is just another name for Adam. The only difference between the true story and this Greek re-telling of it is that it was not “the gods” that condemned Adam to this way of living, rather, it was Adam’s own personal choice.

Adam hated weak. He was convinced that HE COULD DO THIS THING; he could surely do it, if he just TRIED HARD ENOUGH!

And so pushing the stone up the hill is, in a sense, the attempt in some way or other to fulfill God’s task for man, “Subdue the earth,” yet to fulfill it without God as the river of life.

We who have surrendered to “Christ as us” –  the fullest surrender there is – are the only ones who truly have no connection to Adam. The reason that most Christians find surrendering to “Christ as us” so impossibly blasphemous and wrong IS that such a thing is a full betrayal of all that is Adam.

Adam hates weak, and all those who still find some connection in their souls to Adam also hate weak. Thus the fullest expression of humanistic man is found in these words, “All that the Lord says, we will do” — with all the determined perseverance of Sisyphus. Truly, if God were to give men 10,000 years of life on this planet, they would never once cease PUSHING that rock up that hill with no success. Yet they would refuse absolutely to stop trying.

It is Adam who hates “Christ as me.” For Adam to accept “Christ as me” would be to abandon his favorite occupation – pushing stones up hills without hope of success.

Listen to what all Christian “leaders” say. They say, “God is pleased when you try your best.” But you see, that is the out. “When you try your best.” In other words, we know we will never actually succeed. No one will ever get that stone to stay at the top of the hill. That’s a given; it will always roll back down. But what makes God happy is when we “try as best we can to do something that can never actually be done.”

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

We never read this right in the past. First, notice that Paul manages to mention himself 12 times in 4 verses. Then, look at the strength of his heart, “Lest I should be exalted above measure.”We used to view this strength of heart as “bad.” But look what happens when “Christ is my life; I have no other life” enters the picture. The strength and boldness of Paul’s heart does not slow down a bit. Now he is boasting in his weakness that the power of Christ may rest upon him.

The momentary problem for Paul was that his strong heart was heading in the wrong direction. But that was no problem for either God or Paul – because of the Blood. Rather, the moment Christ came into the picture, Paul never lost a breath in turning that boldness of heart in the direction God intended from the beginning.

God made man with that bold heart, and He is honored by it.

My strength is made perfect in your weakness.

The entire mystery and purpose of God is found in those words. Everything I teach comes out of my desire to know what they mean. This is an incredible union that defines everything. These words define everything in the earth and human history, everything in the Bible, everything in God’s purpose and intention inside His creation.

Adam rejected the “weakness” part and thus rejected both union with God and the incredible, bigger-than-the-universe strength that comes through that union.

Humanism says this, “I can do what God tells me to do.”

But union with God requires a passage, a passage through weakness, a boasting in infirmity. “I can’t do anything God tells me to do and I no longer try.” Yet that weakness is filled with a heart of boldness, “the power of Christ rests upon me” — “Christ is my life; I have no other life.”

But then look at Paul’s final three words. I am strong.

But this is an entirely different statement from “All that the Lord says we will do.” It is worlds different. This final statement is God and Paul and Paul and God speaking as one. These words come out of a heart that is bold with all the boldness of God. Audacity without limit. That tiny little hill with all those ant-sized Sisyphus’s pushing away is far, far beneath “I am strong.” Only Adam in his wimpishness would try to put a limit on those words. When it is God and us speaking them, there can be no limit, nor any place where they stop.

What is the truth about all those who refuse to be “weak?” Here it is.

And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,  and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!” Revelation 6:15-16

They were all wimps after all.

So let’s sum this part up.

“Christ as me” feels utterly wrong to Adam. Adam is certain that trying a little harder (knowing that he can never actually succeed) is what defines “the man.” Complete abandonment of one’s self into the person of another will always feel “heretical” to Adam, since it blasphemes the god of his world.

Now, look at the posers who have managed to get their stones part way up the hill, and especially those who are near the top. These are all strong, powerful, and leading humans, examples to all. These are the “successful ones,” Christian and non-Christian, it makes no difference. They are the loudest ones on the hill; everyone else has their eyes on them.

Fred Pruitt pointed out that most people welcome the real Jesus, the “friend of sinners”; they are hostile only towards the false “Jesus” pushed by the pushers of stones up the hill. He was referring to the majority of people, those who are found at the bottom of the hill with the stone on top of them more often than not. These turn gladly to the One who says, “Come unto Me all you who labor under the weight.”

The problem is that those who do succeed in getting their stone near the top of the hill are the ones making all the noise, the ones “successful” in their Christian leadership, and thus very convincing. These are the ones who teach that the only way you can “please God” is to try to do your best.

The source of all religion is the refusal to be weak. It is also the source of all human abuse and manipulation of others, Christian or not.

But there are those who discover that weakness in no way violates the integrity of our person – quite the contrary. Weakness – the complete weakness of abandoning ourselves entirely into the person of another – is, in fact, how we discover who we truly are, the image of God.

Look back at those verses from Revelation 6. John mentions you and me in those verses, did you catch that? Face.

You and I are the face of the One who sits upon the throne. We are His image. He is seen through us. And to walk as that Face takes a boldness of heart that all those wimpish posers on the hill can never know.

We have not lost anything; we have found ourselves.