As human beings, we may ask ourselves “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose?”, or “Why am I here?”. I believe that these are questions that are common to most people.
We can sometimes feel like we are on a hamster wheel, running quickly without actually going anywhere. In asking these questions, we are trying to give our lives greater meaning and greater significance than what we have understood before now.
As followers of Jesus, we must know what God’s mission is so that we do not find ourselves running around without purpose. We must know what he is doing so that we can align our lives and our activities around his purposes and what he is doing.
So what is the mission of God? Is it possible to know? I believe it is, and I believe God gave us the first indication of his plan with Adam and Eve, which we can now read in the first chapter of Genesis.
Read Genesis 1:26-30
So let’s answer three questions about this passage:
Question 1: What does it mean that we are made in God’s image?
Imagine that you take a picture of something with your phone. In the example picture below, you see that the person has taken a picture of a tree. Now, as they leave that place, they have an image of that tree. They don’t have the real thing, just a representation of the real thing so that they can show it to other people who haven’t seen that tree. This picture was made in the image of that tree.
While this analogy isn’t perfect, I think it can help us understand more about what God is doing when it says that he made the man and the woman in his image. We are made as a representation of God. We are intended to represent him. We are not the real thing. We are not God. But we have been made for the purpose of representing him to others who do not know God so that they can know who he is.
Question 2: What does it mean that God says that the men and women should multiply and fill the earth?
This is the first command that God ever gives. The first command wasn’t that they shouldn’t eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It wasn’t even that they should love God and love other people. What was the first command? Make babies! And a lot of them! 🙂
Is it a coincidence that God makes the man and the woman in his own image and then immediately tells them to fill the earth? Definitely not! God wants his image to be spread across the face of the earth. He gives us dominion to rule over the earth, which of course implies a responsibility to care for it, but I think the most important point is that God wants his image to be seen everywhere! Every part of the earth should have a representation of God upon it.
Question 3: What can we learn about God’s mission from what we have read?
God creates Adam and Eve and then tells them to multiply. He wants to his image spread across the face of the earth. From the beginning, we can see that God’s is on a mission to have his image reflected and shown across the whole earth.
Now, let’s move forward to the final commandment of Jesus prior to him leaving the earth and returning back to God. As we read these three verses, we should focus on thinking about whether or not God has changed his mind about his mission, or if, instead, God’s plan has remained the same.
Read Matthew 28:18-20
Question: In what ways are Genesis 1:26-28 similar to Matthew 28:18-20?
First, in Genesis, we saw that God gave his people authority over all of the earth. Now, Jesus says that God has given him all of the authority. In both cases, God gives authority to the people on the earth who carry God’s image – first to Adam and Eve as we read in Genesis, and then to Jesus as we read in Matthew.
Second, in Genesis, we saw that God wanted his image spread all across the face of the earth. Now, we see Jesus tell his disciples to make disciples in his image, obeying everything that Jesus had commanded them.
And third, we saw in Genesis that God wanted his image to be multiplied all across the earth. Now, we see that Jesus says that they should make disciples of all nations. In other words, Jesus wants his image, whom we could still call the image of God, to be taken to, and reproduced, among all of the peoples on the face of the earth.
Now, let’s apply what we have learned in this lesson.
Question: What have you learned about God’s mission?
Question: Who were you created to be? What does that mean?
Question: What were you created to do?
Question: What can you do now, in a practical way, to put what you have learned into practice?
Discuss these questions together as a group and then finish with a time of prayer to worship God for who he is, what he has made you to do, and to confirm your commitments to him.