Monday, October 29, 2007

The Image of God and the purpose of having a body

We are made in the image of God, and we have been given the Image of God for the purpose of being able to experience God as we experience ourselves. As we are able to translate our experience of ourselves into correct knowledge of God, we are better see the reflection of God in our Image. As this happens we are better relate with God as friend and Father and are better able to relate with our fellow Image-bearers. To put it succinctly, we are made in the Image of God so that we can be conscious of how we reflect His image for the benefit of our journey into His wisdom and into His joy.

It is with this basic understanding that every component of each person’s Image can be understood has having been given to that person as a teacher that instructs the “I” within that person. These the “teaching components” and “teaching whole” of the Image do their “teaching” as we live and experience life with the God-made selves that we have and that we are. The knowledge that is gained from these ‘teaching components” and “teaching whole” of the Image we possess are gained as marks that are written by the pen of intimate experience onto the page of our hearts, thoughts, memories and emotions.

God is inviting us to journey of learning from the “teaching components” and “teaching whole” of our respective Images so that each of us gains an accrual of relationship-with-God-worthy-wisdom throughout our lives. It is for the goal of enjoying and knowing God better that we are called to take our “teaching components” captive to a journey of learning His wisdom from the Image he has given us.

Having wisdom involves having an understanding that unites word knowledge and real-world, emotional and tangible experience. In regard to our Image of God, the “teaching components” of our personal selves speak to us in a non-linguistic language of emotional, visceral experiences. As such, there is an inherent vagueness whereby the “teaching components” of our Image teach, as they do not teach with words. As such, it is possible for a “teaching component” of our Image to be misinterpreted and even harnessed to craft a message that is anti-God.

So why doesn’t God make it easier and more obvious for us to receive wisdom from the Image that we have been endowed with? It is necessary requirement for our free will that God endowed us with an Image of God that contains “teaching components” that are not didactic, that require one to have a willing relationship with God Himself for one to fully understand. God has created a world where beings are free to rebel against Him, and he has created the resources of that world, including those aspects of it that directly reflect His Image, to be available for the purpose of rebellion, should willful beings choose to be rebellious.

I believe that God reserves his wisdom for his friends, and that he wants the joy of revealing his wisdom to us as a Friend for the same reason that we find in our own character as humans-- it more satisfying to give a personal gift to a personal friend than to give an impersonal gift to an acquaintance. Part of journey to grow in the “wisdom of our Image”, involves us finding the Godly words that reify the non-linguistic messages that these “teaching components” of our Image speak to our character. It is when we find the words for the “lessons of our Image” that we are re-introduced to what we’ve always known, and we are able to fully relate with God as Friend and Father with our lips and thoughts.

It is as a general rule that we experience God and knowledge of God as we experience ourselves in the motion of life. Of course, a fool learns only from himself, and it is not necessary for a person to experience every sort of heart-ache first hand to gain wisdom. It is not possible for every person to learn all the wisdom that there is to know from scratch, to re-invent the wheel. In God’s infinite wisdom, he has allowed many people to fall into various forms of peril and destruction so that those who seek wisdom can learn from their mistakes. Even so, there will always be a large element of personal discovery and experience that will characterize anyone’s journey.

God Himself has a character and so do we, so that our character can interact in relationship with God’s character. We have a character that is designed to find joy peace and fulfillment in the things that enhance our relationship with God and we are designed to find emptiness and heartache in the things that don’t. In this way, those aspects of our selves and psyches that lead to heartache and emptiness are “teaching components” of our image.

While there is a one-to-one correlation between those elements of our character and God’s character, there is not a one-to-one correlation between God’s body and our body, since God does not have a body. Nevertheless, our bodies are too made in the Image of God, and, as such, the body is a “teaching component” of our Image, since our body is so thoroughly connected to our selves and to the development of our characters. Precise manner in which our body is made by God to reflect His Image for our journey into His wisdom is found in the manner in which our body affects our character.

As a “teaching component” of our Image, our body is part of an inseparable feedback loop between the other “teaching components” of our being, which include our character, body, will, thoughts, emotions. As with the other “teaching components” the body provides input into the feedback loop with trans-rational, non-linguistic communication.

One’s behavior can communicate to one’s own deepest being as well as to others. There are certain behaviors that communicate positive, relationship-with-God-worthy and loving messages to our deepest being and other behaviors that communicate degradation and hatred to our deepest being. Everyone knows that a caress can speak affection without words, though the affection can also be communicated with words. It is also part of the nature of our body that certain behaviors that communicate degradation and hatred can have certain pleasing elements to them in the moment.

The body and its behaviors can be said to communicate God’s truth via a symbolic language of consequences of cause and effect. The human body is made in the Image of God to affect character in a certain way, and there are certain universal rules of cause and effect in regard to the way that the body affects people’s character for better or worse. Positive bodily induced consequences will result in built-in positive messages being communicated about God and about other people. Negative bodily induced consequences will negate the body’s built-in potential for positive messages and invert it into negative messages about God and about other people.

So what does it mean to take the body’s God-messages captive to words across the consequences of character? What combination of personal experience, cautionary tales, Scriptural truth and wisdom will harness the power of one’s body so that it is an instrument of one’s joyful relationship with God and an instrument of his/her accruing wisdom? What aspects of any person’s body are unique to that individual person and what aspects are of a universal nature, subject to universal rules of cause and effect? What does it mean to be “introduced to what you’ve always known” in regard to the encoded wisdom of the Image in the human body that God has provided for our benefit? It is with these questions in mind that I want to later begin to unravel the question of the body as it relates to human sexuality.

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