“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).
SURELY IT IS NO COINCIDENCE THAT WE YEARN FOR GOD. This profound longing cannot have resulted from a quirk in the operation of merely physical forces. Our hunger for righteousness is no caprice of nature. We desire God because we were created to do so by God Himself, the Creator in whose image we were made. As our Beginning, He is the only perfect End toward which we were meant to move.
Human beings are inherently religious. As Spinoza said, “We feel and know that we are eternal.” Though we may often distract ourselves with lesser concerns, we still experience a deep-rooted longing for communion with the divine. God having put eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), we instinctively reach out for concord with the Source of our being.
As creatures made in God’s image, we long for relationship with other personal beings. And if we need personal relationship with our fellow creatures, we need it even more deeply with our Creator. We were designed for what the Scriptures call “fellowship” with God (1 John 1:3). Without that essential involvement, our spirits waste away in emptiness.
The purpose of our existence is described in a familiar old tradition: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” These words well state the ultimate fulfillment that is available to us, looking at the matter from our perspective. But from God’s perspective, may we not also say that God gave us the power to glorify and enjoy Him in order that He might show forth His goodness through us? We are vessels, instruments through whom God intends to demonstrate His goodness in our actions.
If we’re alienated from God, He can’t fully reveal His goodness through us. If His purpose isn’t being fulfilled in us, we can’t experience the joy for which we were designed, and if we miss that joy, all else in the world is futility and frustration. “O God . . . my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1). Having been made by God, we long for Him. When our hearts hurt in this world, what we are is homesick.
“He that is made in the image of God must know Him or be desolate” (George MacDonald).