Prairie Chickens and Purpose
Once upon a time, a boy found an eagle's egg and dropped it in the nest of a prairie chicken, and the eaglet hatched along with the baby chicks. But because all this eagle knew was the life of a prairie chicken, it began to think it was a prairie chicken: it scratched the dirt to find insects and seed and thrashed its wings, flying only in little increments. One day when the eagle was very old, it looked up in the sky, saw a magnificent bird, and said, "What is that?" Its prairie chicken brother said, "That's an eagle, the king of all birds, but don't give it a second thought. You could never be one of those." So the eagle died believing it was a prairie chicken.
Don't you dare go through life thinking you're a prairie chicken when God has made you to be the crown of all His creation. About 3,000 years ago, King David asked a question that philosophers and anthropologists have wrestled with for generations: "What is man?" (Psalm 8:40). The best way to answer this question is not by speculation or imagination, but by God's revelation, which tells us that man was created in God's image. Looking at Genesis 1-3 in brief, let's see how God's creation of man includes God's reflection in man for the purpose of God's interaction with man.
First is God's creation of man: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.... Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth'" (Genesis 1:1, 26). To define what it is to be human, you must get to the root of the matter biblically: God said, "Let Us create." When we see life through the lens of God, then we can see a purpose, a divine reason for existence. It all comes together.
And the creation of man by God included God's reflection in man: "God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.'" In other words, God said, "I am going to make man unlike any other creature I have made on the earth." Look down at Genesis 2:7: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." From dust and dirt, yet fashioned in the image of God, breathed into by the breath of God.
In Psalm 8, David wrote, "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet" (vv. 4-6).
What exactly does it mean to be in the image of God? It certainly means I'm different than a dog, cat, elephant, whale, dolphin, or spotted owl. There's something more unique and higher in mankind than that. To be created in the image of God means you have part of His communicable attributes—you are rational, immortal, spiritual, and responsible. It means that you have a mind to know God, a heart to love God, a will to obey or disobey God, and a destiny to be with God.
In Genesis 3, we discover that God's creation of man included God's reflection in man for the purpose of His interaction with man. He didn't just put man on the earth as an experiment. He had a purpose. "And they [Adam and Eve] heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.... Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, 'Where are you?'" (Genesis 3:8-9).
The wording here suggests that this was a daily occurrence: God walked with Adam and Eve, hung out with them. Even though this original design became marred by sin, man was originally created by God with the purpose of fellowshipping with Him. Notice that God called to Adam personally: "Adam, I've been looking for you." God knew him by name—and He knows you by name. You are God's crowning of creation. Remember this today: of all the creatures on earth, you're the one God came to redeem—not prairie chickens, eagles, or any other living thing. How incredibly special that should make you feel!