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Center for Action and Contemplation

We Were Made by Love to Love

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Introduction: Image and Likeness

We Were Made by Love to Love
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

God said, “Let us make humans in our image, according to our likeness.” —Genesis 1:26

My dear people, we are already children of God; what we will be in the future has not yet been fully revealed, and all I do know is that we shall be like God. —1 John 3:2

The Judeo-Christian creation story says that we were created in the very “image and likeness” of God—who is Infinite Love flowing between Three, making unity out of clear diversity. (Picture a fidget spinner in motion: three corners that appear as one.) [1] The classic “placeholder” names of Father, Son, and Spirit show us what love is: a creative and constant exchange of self-emptying and infilling, mutual giving and total receiving. Out of the Trinity’s generative, loving relationship, creation takes form, fully mirroring its Creator. This is the dynamic of life planted inside of everything, from hearts and circulatory systems to photosynthesis, gravity, electromagnetic fields, and the field of light that apparently is “one” throughout the whole universe.

We have heard the phrase so often that we don’t get the existential shock of what “created in the image and likeness of God” is saying about us. If this is true—and I believe it is—our family of origin is divine. We were created by a loving God to be love in the world. Our core is original blessing, not original sin. Our starting point is “very good” (Genesis 1:31) and surely not “total depravity” or “sinners in the hands of an angry god.” All the good theology in the world cannot make up for a basically negative anthropology.

From God’s side, we are always known and loved subject to subject, just as the persons of the Trinity know and love one another. We will not and cannot know or even love one another if we objectify one another in any way. This is perhaps the clearest way to describe God’s unconditional acceptance and forgiveness: We are never an object to God. God cannot not love God’s image in us. This is the eternal covenant. God loves us center to center.

Gateway to Presence:
If you want to go deeper with today’s meditation, take note of what word or phrase stands out to you. Come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.

[1] Watch Richard Rohr’s introductory video to this year’s theme to see his illustration of Trinity as a fidget spinner,

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 78-79; and
Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2007), 27-28.

Image credit: White Sands National Monument, New Mexico by Nicholas Kramer, CAC staff – representing the spaciousness and freedom within us that is a reflection of the imago Dei.
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