George Knight contends that the grand purpose of Christian Education is the restoration of God’s image. The Imago Dei that was first created in Adam and Eve was depraved when they fell. Since then the entire human race never lives apart from sin. In 2 Corinthians 5:19-20, Paul shows Christians that we all are given “the ministry of reconciliation” by God. There is no argument against this in the realm of the Kingdom of Heaven. The ministry of reconciliation as stated by Paul does not only deal with humans, but also with the entire creation. This overarching reconciliation, therefore, prompts us to revisit Genesis 1:26-28 where we found our being created in the Image of God.
Genesis 1:26 states clearly the purpose of humans being created as Imago Dei. Because our purpose is to “rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground,” God created us in His Image and thus endowed us with all the necessary means for accomplishing the stated purpose. Genesis 1:27 records that God created the Imago Dei according to the plan in verse 26. Genesis 1:28 God blessed the Imago Dei and commanded them to do exactly what they were made for.
In Genesis 1:28 there is a slight difference if compared with verse 26. In verse 28 God added His command “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.” Or in other words, God ordered Adam and Eve to multiply the Image of God. This is not mentioned in the original plan in verse 26. This begs the question: “Why?” There are two clues that we will ponder a bit. First is Genesis 1:22, where God also commanded the animals to multiply and fill the earth. Thus perhaps to contain the animals, humans also need to increase in number. But why Adam and Eve alone couldn’t do it? Weren’t they created in the image of God himself? To answer this let us take a look at the second clue in Exodus 23:28-30 that says: “I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.” The second clue provides a clear understanding that multiplication is a necessity for fulfilling our duty to rule over this vast world. By nature humans do need to increase in number in order to rule.
Another question emerges, however, that if God’s order is clear for humans to multiply, then what about those that cannot bear children? Are they transgressing a direct order? Aren’t they punishable then for not being able to complete the order? Those that are not able to bear children would be guilty of a great sin then. We don’t need to panic. Our God provides us a way out. Didn’t Jesus himself have no children? Our great Master, Redeemer, Son of the Living God bore no children. And wasn’t he sinless? How, then, Jesus got a way with God’s command to multiply? The answer lies deeply in the meaning of multiplication and our state after the fall.
In our fallen-ness, humans don’t automatically multiply God’s image when they have children biologically. We are reproducing broken images every time we procreate since the Fall. This broken image is vulnerable to be formed in many different ways. God wants us to be Imago Dei. It is his grand plan and masterpiece. Our own broken image will be passed on to the next generation, and thus definitely we are not following God’s original plan. Even more horrifying if the image we are multiplying is the image of Satan (cf. John 8:44). The key of God’s command in Genesis 1:28 is that we multiply Imago Dei and not any other images.
In our sinful condition, we are still charged with the same command given to Adam and Eve. So whoever we are, can bear children or not, our charge is to multiply God’s image. For those that can bear children biologically, they are not off the hook regarding God’s charge to multiply. They are to educate their biological children in such a way that their children will grow in the image and likeness of God and not the likeness of the world or the devil. For those that have no children biologically, they are also charged with the same command, and thus they can have no biological children but produce Imago Dei. When the childless people multiply God’s image in the lives of children not their own, they are blessed, much more than those who have children biologically but fail to multiply God’s image in the lives of their own children.
Jesus, although he had no biological children but he did not sin, since he obeyed God’s command to multiply by multiplying the True Image of God. All of us who are called Christians, or the followers of Christ, or the people of God, or the children of God, are in a sense Jesus’ offspring. We are the result of Jesus obeying God’s command to multiply Imago Dei. In the same way, we are also charged to multiply the same Imago Dei. This charge is seriously highlighted in the business of Christian Education. Multiplying Imago Dei is a must in Christian Education. Christian Education is the only education that bears the responsibility to multiply Imago Dei. Conscious or not, we all are multiplying images, but whose image is the big question. We are, by nature, created with the ability to multiply. But we need to be aware as whose image we are passing on to the next generation, to our children, to those entrusted to us. God’s charge remains, that we are to multiply Imago Dei, and fill the earth with Imago Dei, and subdue the earth according to the nature of the Imago Dei, for the glory of God, who is the Original and the true owner of the world.
* The Business of Christian Education Part III