The Bible tells us that God created us in His image and likeness. Does being made in God’s image help answer the question, Why did God create us?
The phrase image of God is found in the first chapter of the Bible. We are told that “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him” (Genesis 1:27).
But what does that mean?
It seems to imply that somehow mankind is different from the rest of creation. But it doesn’t explicitly tell us why or in what way we are different.
So, what exactly is special about mankind? Why did God create us?
What makes mankind a special creation of God?
God created human beings to be very special.
The fact that you can contemplate these words and question your existence is a testimony to your uniqueness. Among all God’s creatures on earth, only human beings can do this.
Throughout time, philosophers have recognized this reality.
René Descartes, the 17th-century philosopher, tried to disprove everything he thought was true in order to come up with what he considered to be irrefutable truth.
He concluded that there was one objective truth he couldn’t doubt: his own existence. For him, the ability to think and contemplate himself was proof of his own existence. So, he coined the expression “I think, therefore I am.”
This simple quote is profound. Animals can’t contemplate their own existence. They just exist—living by instinct.
So, why are we so different?
The irony is, despite our technological achievements, we struggle to answer that simple question. We invent super telescopes and launch them into space to peer deep into the universe. We create electron microscopes and supercolliders to peer deep into the subatomic world. We have unlocked the secrets of the cell and can create supercomputers.
Yet the answer to this basic question—why did God create us?—remains a mystery to most people.
Can we know the answers to questions like:
Why do I exist? What is the purpose of life? Is there a purpose? Were we created, or are we a random cosmic accident?
Why can I even think about these questions in the first place?
Biology tells us we are a conglomeration of cells made of proteins and other molecules—but it cannot answer why we exist. Our DNA can explain our physical features, but it can’t explain to us why we exist. Physics can explain the interactions we have with our world, but it can’t explain why our universe exists in the first place. Astronomy can look deep into the universe, but it can’t explain its purpose.
The Bible has the missing information. It reveals that we were created for a purpose, and it reveals what that purpose is.
Why did God create us in His image?
The key to answering these questions starts with the phrase image of God (Genesis 1:27).
“In the image of God He created him” includes the meaning that our form and features are designed to resemble God’s. He used Himself as the pattern to create us. The Hebrew word translated “image” is tselem. That word describes a likeness, resemblance or form. As children are the image of their parents (Genesis 5:3), we are the image of our ultimate parent, God.
The rest of the Bible supports this truth. The Scriptures describe God as having arms (Isaiah 40:10), hands (Psalm 110:1), fingers (Exodus 31:18), feet (Exodus 24:10), a back (Exodus 33:23), ears (Psalm 88:2), hair (Daniel 7:9), teeth (Genesis 49:12) and a face (Exodus 33:11).
We also have capabilities as God does—albeit on a much lower level. Some of these capabilities include self-analysis, self-consciousness, awareness of mortality (though, of course, God is immortal!), contemplation of the meaning of life, humor, creativity, appreciation, ability to design, imagination, innovation, abstract reasoning, language, numerous other advanced cognitive skills and the potential to consider spiritual things.
All of these capabilities set us apart from the animal kingdom and make us like God Himself—again, at a very limited level.
We have these capabilities because God has put a spiritual element into our minds, the “spirit of man” (Job 32:8; Zechariah 12:1; 1 Corinthians 2:11). This spirit imparts the godlike capabilities listed above.
But that is not all there is to being made in the image of God.
To learn more about this topic, read “What Does It Mean to Be Made in ‘the Image of God’?”
Our great potential—why God created us
King David was in awe when he considered why God’s mind was filled with thoughts about mankind. When David looked up and saw the heavens, he reflected on how small we really are and wondered why God was so interested in us (Psalm 8:3-4). These verses have even greater weight today, considering that we have powerful technologies that peer deep into the vastness of the universe and let us see how incredibly large it really is.
God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This is why we search for meaning—we sense that there is more than just this life.David contemplated how all things have been placed under mankind (verse 6). God placed authority over this earth in mankind’s domain (Genesis 1:28). In the book of Hebrews, the writer expands on David’s thoughts, suggesting that an even greater potential lies ahead: “But now we do not yet see all things put under him” (Hebrews 2:8).
When God created the first man, Adam, He created him alone initially. Adam soon realized that there was no other creature like him (Genesis 2:7, 19-20).
After he realized that he was alone, God created him a wife, Eve, and joined them together. This was the beginning of the human family (verses 21-24). Jesus recognized this union as being joined together by God, meaning marriage is a divine institution (Matthew 19:6). God is the author of the human family.
The human family is a small type of what God’s ultimate purpose is—to build and expand His family.
When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, He revealed that humans have the potential to be born as spirit beings into God’s family kingdom (John 3:3). We can become composed of spirit—or “born of the Spirit” (verse 6)—as God is composed of spirit.
God’s ultimate purpose is to create a family of divine beings like Himself (Ephesians 3:15). That is the ultimate answer to why you were created—you were created to be born into the God family!
To learn more about this exciting truth, read “Why Were You Born?”
How to achieve our potential
But we cannot reach our potential without understanding that we need God. After God created man, He said the creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Yet God’s creation of mankind was incomplete. There was something missing.
This missing element was offered to Adam and Eve through the tree of life (Genesis 2:9, 16-17). This represented access to God and His spiritual knowledge through the Holy Spirit. Tragically, both Adam and Eve rejected it by disobeying and eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17; 3:6, 17). They were removed from the garden and cut off from access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:23-24).
What would have happened if they had been allowed to eat from it? God said they would have lived forever (verse 22).
Though mankind was cut off from the tree of life, God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This is why we search for meaning—we sense that there is more than just this life.
Access to God’s Spirit is available today to those God is calling. It is the only way you can fulfill your purpose.
As the world around us seems to be crumbling, this question of our existence—of why we were created—becomes more relevant than ever.
To understand more about why God created you, read “What Is the Real Purpose of Life?”