God is personal, yet transcendent. He created man in His image in order that man could have a relationship with Him. Of course that relationship was broken when Adam sinned in the garden. Even though man was (and continues to be) rebellious and broke the relationship, he still bore (and bears) the image of God. Though it is marred by the effects of sin, the image remains. So what is the image of God? The image is the common link shared only by God and man, the crown of His creation. The image cannot be the principal of existence because God exists as do all elements of His creation. In that sense, God shares the principal of existence with everything He created. Similarly, God shares the quality of life with all the plants and animals in His creation, so the image cannot be life. More exclusively, He shares self-determined movement with the animals He created, so that can’t qualify as the image. These three qualities demark the limits of the god the Greek philosopher quoted by Paul described when he said, “In him we live and move and have our being.” Merely sharing life, movement, and existence provide no more means for knowing a transcendent God than would be possible between us and an ant. There has to be more. Of all the vast differences between God and man, the one commonality that only man shares with God is personality. Only God and man share in the essence of what it means to be persons. Persons can only know one another by entering into relationship with each other. Just as with the relationship between a husband and a wife, a relationship with God cannot be based solely on knowledge of data. Although relationship is not based on or formed out of data, information gleaning is a natural, inevitable byproduct of being in a relationship with someone. Likewise, a relationship cannot be based solely on experience. Experiences, while not foundational, are resultant of relationship. True knowledge of God is based entirely on sharing a personal relationship with Him that bears the fruit of data and experience.
That, however, leads to a problem. How can man have a relationship with God? God is infinite while we are finite. That fact alone is an incomprehensible chasm. God is invisible and transcendent while we are visible and mortal. By definition, a transcendent being is one who is “beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge.” How can a mortal man know something that is beyond knowledge? Additionally, God is spirit and we are flesh. How can one relate to a being with which he cannot sensually interact? Most devastatingly, God is pure and holy and we are defiled and sinful. The holiness of God can allow no imperfection in His presence. These things and more indicate a great impassible gulf which is fixed between man and God that, despite the commonality of personality, cannot be bridged. In unfathomably inequitable circumstances such as this, the greater must reach down to the lesser. In other words, the Creator must initiate contact with the creature – but how? Only one was capable of bridging the gap – one who is fully God and fully man. God, because He is personal, desired (not needed) to have a relationship with His personal creation. He didn’t need to because He exists in perfect, full relationship within the Trinity. He desired relationship with man out of His unfailing, unfathomable, αγαπε love. If a relationship is to be had, God has to initiate it. Because of the depravity caused by rebellion and sin contrasted to the holiness of God, man attempts to fulfill his innate desire for relationship with everything but God. God, out of His love for us, sent His Son – Immanuel, God with us – to bridge the gap and provide a way for us to enter into relationship with Him. He woos us and courts us with His Holy Spirit. He provided the Bridge. He gave us His Word to show us the way. All He asks is that we know Him by following Him in the way He has provided for us.