Read Genesis 1:26-28, 2:18-23; Psalm 8:3-9.
What does it mean to be human? There are many things that we could say at this point. Human beings are self-aware. Human beings are creative. They exercise the ability to reason and to show compassion. Fundamentally, to understand what it means to be human must begin with the creation account of Genesis because human beings are different than all other creation. We were created in the image of God.
At the end of Genesis 1, God completed His creative work with something new, something that had never been seen before. A creature that was created in His image. What does that mean? Writing in Genesis 1, Moses said that God created man in His image and likeness. Those words convey the idea of a figure or a replica, an image which represents what it is modeled after. Man has certain attributes which are similar to God’s attribute such as the ability to love, show compassion and mercy, think abstractly, and display a religious sense. There are also attributes that we do not share with God, such as omniscience and omnipotence. It is significant to note that man and woman are both image bearers of God. God’s design for man and woman was for them to be equal partners for one another.
Man has a special place in the created order. The psalmist, David, recognizes this and said that mankind has been crowned with “glory and honor.” We are His representatives in this world. We exercise God-given dominion over the earth and its resources. This is a special place and special responsibility, even though we have marred both because of our sin and sinful nature. Jesus Christ, truly God, became truly man in order to restore the image of God in us (Rom. 8:29, Col. 3:9-10) through His sacrifice on the cross.