What is the Christian's Primary Response to God?
Grasping the our primary response to God is rooted in understanding how and why we were created, foundationally addressed in Genesis 1:27-28:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”
In this passage, we find the reason we were created and thereby discover our primary response to God. God created man to be His image in the created world.
What then, does it mean to be the image of God?
John Piper puts it this way: “Why do people make images? People make images to image. They want to image forth something. If you make a statue of Napoleon, you want people to think not so much about the statue as Napoleon. And you make the statue in a way that shows something specific about the character of Napoleon.” So it is with God! God created mankind in His own image to show forth Himself. Thus, “Our existence is about showing God’s existence or, specifically, it’s about showing God’s glory.” Our primary response to the Creator, therefore, should be to glorify Him throughout all of creation.
So, what does it mean to glorify God?
We conform ourselves to His image and thereby manifest his existence in the created world around us. Think about it! If our existence is about showing God’s existence, we should be continually seeking to look more like Him so that we can show Him better. This means that when people look at us, they should see God—His love, His goodness, His justice, His righteousness, His mercy, and so on. It is for this reason that when questioned on the greatest commandment—perhaps in its own right a question about our primary response to God—Jesus answered,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-39).
In loving the Lord, we will seek to be like Him, conforming ourselves to His image; in loving our neighbor, we will seek to demonstrate God’s love to them, glorifying God.
There is perhaps no better example of this than Christ,
“The image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15).
Through the Son, God shows all of creation what it looks like to truly love God and love others—to truly be conformed to His image, and it is in the gospel of his death, burial, and resurrection that God’s glory is revealed.
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
God’s true glory is shown to the world in the cross.
“The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Therefore, to glorify God throughout all of creation, we must work to see the gospel revealed to all, and seek personal conformity to the image of Christ.
So, how do we seek personal conformity to the image of Christ?
We seek the knowledge of the Son in community with other believers. Consider the apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:4-6:
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all, and in all.”
It is for this reason that Paul writes,
“He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the world of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
Here, Paul argues that the knowledge of the Son of God is attained through a united body of believers each doing their part in building up the body of Christ. Therefore, to seek personal conformity to the image of Christ, we begin by connecting ourselves to his body in the church.
So, what is the Christian’s primary response to God? Seeking conformity to the image of His Son, connecting to the church, and seeing the gospel revealed to all. By this we glorify God throughout all of creation.
Middle School Pastor