Fredrick Buechner recounts the 19th century fable told by Ramakrishna about a motherless tiger cub who was adopted by goats, raised to speak their language, eat their food, become one of them.

Then one day King Tiger showed up, and the other goats scattered in fear, leaving the young one to confront the beast of the jungle.  He was afraid and yet not afraid.  King Tiger asked about this masquerade, and received only nervous bleating, the crunching of grass, a head down.

Oscar Wilde says, “Most people are other people.  Their thoughts someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passion a quote.”

Genesis 1 and 2

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. ”So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

What does it mean to be created in God’s image?

Congregational Responses:
To love yourself because God created you.
To recognize the holiness in all that has been created.
Honor the connectedness of all that has come from God.
To live as God’s reflection.
Adam’s edible disobedience, Cain’s murderous rage, Pharaoh’s hard-heart, Herod’s punishing paranoia, Peter’s repeated betrayal, and our living contrary to how we have been created to be.

So pacify your identity crisis by chewing on grass that will never satiated, by bleating out the whimper of assimilation, by finally becoming house broken and well adjusted to life in the barnyard.  By accepting your goathood.

What does it mean to be created in God’s image?

To forsake the domestic living hell of not know who you are, to claim your wildness, to wear your stripes, to focus your eye-of-the-tiger.

King Tiger took the young one to the water’s edge to see their reflections side-by-side and gave him a piece of raw meat to devour.  The young tiger cub first recoiled at the sight and smell, but gradually the truth became clear.  Lashing his tail and digging his claws into the ground, the young beast raised his head high and the jungle trembled at his roar.

You can deform it, you can dismiss it, you can deface it, you can defile it, but in the beginning God created you in the divine image, blessed you, and pronounced you very good.  And you are, and forever will be, very good.