Adam and God Painting

The timely message of Christmas
Dr. Juergen Buehler, ICEJ Executive Director

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

One of the greatest tenets of the Christian faith is what the theologian Erich Sauer called “the nobility of man”. We are all created in the likeness of God. This is what sets humanity apart from the rest of Creation.

For men compose symphonies, write novels, invent sophisticated tools, and research the secret complexities of the Universe. We display divine creativity in every part of our lives. Even the most advanced primates are light-years apart from the glory which God placed in mankind.

All women and men are created in the image of God. This very truth forms the basis of Western civilization. It gives value and dignity to every human being and demands that they are treated with respect and equality, no matter our race, religion or gender. This sets the biblical faith and worldview apart from every other religion.

What is even more striking is that the God Who created us did so with a very special purpose. Every evening in “the coolness of the day”, He would come to converse with the newly formed couple in the Garden of Eden. God talked to them about their daily lives and enjoyed their fellowship because they were like Him. In His word, God often calls us His children.

No other faith offers such a personal relationship with a God Who likes to spend time with His creation.

Sadly, this original purpose of mankind was lost in that same Garden. One of the character traits which God placed within humanity as part of our divine nature was that He gave man free will. We can choose to follow Him or not. We can choose to believe and obey Him or to rebel against Him. The fall in Eden thus became the tragedy of Creation, of history and of mankind.

But God from the very beginning knew perfectly well that this possibility existed. So before anything was created, He already provided a way for men to come back to the Father. That is why the Book of Revelation describes Jesus as “the lamb slain before the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). This means that even before creation, God already understood that He would need to provide humanity with a means of redemption.

The manner in which this salvation was provided underscores in a marvellous way the nobility of man. David, the King of Israel, already grasped that the sacrifices of rams and bulls would not be sufficient to restore those whom the Lord created in His own image. In order to accomplish this, God Himself would have to come down in the form of His only begotten son. Thus the birth of Christ underlines man’s glorious calling.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John1:14)

It was already announced through the Hebrew prophets that the one who would be born to redeem his people would be called “Immanuel”, “the mighty God”, and the “One from everlasting”.

Therefore, Christmas represents a divine affirmation to those who are created in the ‘likeness of God’. It is a kiss from God to restore our nobility. Through Christ’s birth, death and resurrection, we are restored back to the family of heaven. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brethren.

What a wonderful truth! God came to dwell among us. The angles broke out in praise: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14). When Christ appeared in the fullness of time, he restored peace between God and mankind and showed His goodwill towards those created in His image.

So let us thank God for this incredible calling to be part of His family. And let us commit ourselves to walk worthy of this noble calling.

“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” (1 Peter 1:18-20)

On behalf of the ICEJ leadership and staff in Jerusalem and all around the world, we extend to you and your loved ones our prayers and best wishes for a very blessed and merry Christmas. May God use us powerfully in the coming year to bless His chosen people Israel!