I suspect our ability to use words is at least a part of what God meant when he said that he would make man in his image. The ability to express information and our thoughts in words is one of the things that distinguishes humans from the rest of creation. I’m not talking about communication. Scientists have documented evidence of communication between members of animal and insect species. Sometimes their communication comes through color or dance in mating rituals where they communicate “I am available.” The organization of an ant colony or a beehive, animals who hunt in packs or who flee from a predator all demonstrate that there is communication between the members of the group. Sometimes there even seems to actually be a sort of language. Whales and dolphins have been recorded making consistent sounds in similar situations. I can listen to the birds in my yard and know whether they are just having a happy day, or whether the neighborhood hawk is back. I can listen to the bark or whine of my dog and know whether the kids next door are playing in our yard, whether the squirrel is in the bird feeder again, or whether the cute little female Bichon across the street is out for a walk. My dog can even understand certain words that I speak to him – “car”, “walk”, “toy” and “treat” all get enthusiastic responses – not so much for “brush” or “bed”. He even responds appropriately to one word commands like “up”, “sit”, “down”, or “paw”. But he can’t reproduce them. Animals can sometimes communicate basic information with each other, but they don’t have language and words like humans do. History changed for each civilization as it developed and began to use written language. Whatever being “made in his image” means includes our being able to communicate and use words.

Genesis 1 gives the account of God’s creation of the world. Creation began with “And God said…”. He didn’t have to do scientific research or build a special machine; he didn’t form a committee or sketch out a model; his spoken word resulted in creation of something new. When Jesus battled Satan in the wilderness, he didn’t argue or philosophize; he quoted scripture, God’s written word. Jesus didn’t calm the storm or heal or cast out demons or summon Lazarus from his tomb with meditation or a dance; he simply spoke commands, and it happened. Don’t miss the fact that the power of his word required that Jesus remain quiet during his trial.

God’s word can be his spoken word, his written word of scripture or his living word in Jesus Christ. All have incredible power. God gave us some of that same power when he gave us words and language. May the words we speak reflect the image of our heavenly Father in us.