November 09, 2019

What is Mankind . . . ?

Psalm 8

When I consider your heavens . . . what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

—  Psalm 8:3-4

Our firstborn arrived one week before I was set to sail on a destroyer to Vietnam. After just seven days for me to bond, our ship got under way. At times in the midst of duty it was hard to remember I had become a dad.

God the Father, on the other hand, always has us on his mind. “What is mankind that you are mindful of them . . . ?” Though we don’t often act like it, we humans are at the top of creation’s glory. “God created mankind in his own image . . . male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). But then their sin scarred his image in them. It wasn’t obliterated, but it was definitely damaged.

I’ve been awestruck by the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands, the fury of New England nor’easters, and the infinite inventory of stars at night on the high seas. Yet every­ image­bearing child reveals more of God’s glory. Creation bears God’s fingerprints; we bear his very likeness.

The psalmist’s question is profoundly humbling and wondrously uplifting: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them . . . ?” We are each made in the image of God. And though the rebellion of sin reverberates in our daily lives, God still sees his likeness in us. His Son came to redeem and restore us. We are “growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). What a blessing it is that God is mindful of his imagebearers!

Lord, we confess our sin that so terribly mars your image in us. Thank you for redeeming and restoring us in Jesus. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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