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Dropping the Like

Dropping the Like

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

You’ve probably heard it before. You and I were created in the image of God. That word image is interesting. It is the Hebrew word that’s pronounced “selem” which is the word Scripture uses for “idol.” In fact, the Greek Septuagint version uses the word “eikon” (icon). Humans are like an idol of God. In other words if you were going to create a “likeness” of God, it would look human, which is kind of crazy to think about.

Or maybe it is not because Jesus didn’t come as a dog. He came as a human. Colossians 1:15 even says: “He is the eikon of the invisible God.”

We are made in his likeness. That’s a different word. It’s pronounced “d’mut,” which is basically the Hebrew form of a simile – which, if you forgot what you were taught in ninth grade English, is a comparison between two things using like or as.

So when Wonder Mike of the Sugarhill Gang sings: “I hate to brag and I hate to boast but I’m like hot butter on your breakfast toast” he is not really saying he is butter on toast. He is saying he is smooth. It’s similar but different.

This is the definition from the Oxford Dictionary: a simile is a figure of speech involving comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid.”

I love that last part – making a description more emphatic or vivid – in our context it means that humans are different from God but we are made to highlight the nature and character of God – in other words, to use the Westminster Catechism – we are created to glorify God.

That’s cool.

But there’s a problem. Because instead of being content to be God’s simile in the world – we have fallen in love with the icon. The idol. We drop the LIKE and just one to BE HIM.

Listen to the serpent’s way of subtly twisting the meaning of God’s words. Genesis 3:5 “God knows that when you eat of it (the fruit) your eyes will be opened and you will be like God.”

This isn’t the simile form of being like God – this is you will be LIKE LIKE him. It’s like when your friend asked you back in the day if you liked a girl or if you like liked a girl. There is a difference, right?

Zach Eswine’s book Sensing Jesus was really helpful in framing this for me.

“Like Eve and Adam, we too are tempted to prize the Serpent’s cunning,” he writes.

We are tempted by omnipresence – the ability to be all places at all times. That is why FOMO is so real and why when we are one place we feel pulled somewhere else and always feel the pressure to be everywhere all the time.

We are tempted by omnipotence – the possession of unlimited power. That is why we celebrated winners. They are the strongest. The most talented. They are better. They get the gold medal. And we should all strive to be the best. We believe fundamentally that weakness is bad and it must be hidden at all costs.

We are tempted by omniscience. We want to know everything God does. We celebrate achievement. We avoid failure. We prize being in the know.

Sin has sold us the lie that we are supposed to be this way.

  • That if we are not there for someone we have failed as a human being. We measure the quality of our life by the volume of experiences we have.
  • That if we are exposed for not being strong enough, talented enough, whatever enough – then there is something terribly wrong with us. That is why we exaggerate. That’s why we hold the fish we caught close to the camera when we snap it on Instagram.
  • And finally that if we are exposed for not being competent, then our careers or maybe even our lives are over. Once I lied that I had seen a movie that everybody else seemed to have seen. My friend asked me about the helicopter scene. I said, “Oh man that was awesome.” My friend then told me, “Ned, there was no helicopter scene.” BUSTED.

You want to know why you and I are so tired?

You and I spend our lives trying to be like like God.

When that was NEVER God’s design.

WHICH IS ACTUALLY REALLY REALLY GOOD NEWS!

Listen friends!

  • You are not and never were meant to be omnipresent – God made you in such a way that you can only be one place at a time.
  • You are not and never were meant to be able to do everything that needs to be done. You are not all-powerful. You cannot fix everything that is broken. That isn’t the goal. And that never was the goal.
  • You and I are not supposed to know everyone or everything. We are not omniscient. You have limited knowledge and you always will.

Here’s a good question: “Which of the three are you most tempted by?”

  • Being an everywhere-for-all?
  • Being a fix-it-all?
  • Or Being a know-it-all?

What do you feel like you will lose if you stop pretending in these ways and entrust yourself to Jesus?

Ned Erickson

Ned is the Founder and Executive Director of the Winston-Salem Fellows, a non-profit dedicated to equipping people to live seamless lives as they grow into the men and women they were created to be. He is the author of four books, including the critically acclaimed novel Clay. He, his wife, two children, dogs, rabbit, guinea pig, turtle, and chickens live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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