I don't like to miss introductions. That's why I always try to catch the first few minutes of a television show or a movie. That's why I hate to arrive late to a play. Somehow, if I miss the introduction, I feel uninformed and a bit adrift.

It's sort of the same way with God. While speaking at various churches with the Retooled and Refueled Seminar, I explain that if we miss God's introduction, we don't get the big picture. Then we are left without the necessary tools to be about his business. Sadly, most of our postmodern culture is in just such a predicament.

Whatever man was intended to be, it is clear that that is not what he has become. Do you ever find yourself wondering, "Could it be that we Christians are wrong and the secular humanists are right? Maybe life, in fact, has no intrinsic value. Maybe humanity is nothing more than a random alignment of chemicals."

Granted, we live in an increasingly crass and coarse culture. Fewer people understand the art of gentility. Disrespect abounds. Human dignity and worth are foreign concepts to many. Far too much value is placed on whether something (or someone) is "useful" to society. And with that as our basic criteria, it becomes increasingly easy to "end a pregnancy" or stop medical aid to the aged—today's equivalent of putting an aging Eskimo on an ice float and pushing him out to sea.

I suspect that much of this problem is the result of humanity having missed God's Introduction. God spoke very early and directly about the human condition: "Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground'" (Genesis 1:26, niv).

As Augustine said, there is a "God-shaped vacuum" in our souls. And I believe this short passage in the first chapter of the Bible is at the epicenter of that fundamental truth. It is, in a very real sense, the human genome of the spirit. Until we understand the profound depth and exquisite implications of this simple passage we will never really "get" God's big picture.

Reread the words from the passage slowly and drink them in. Do you see God's symmetry? We are made to be like God. We are not animals. Despite PETA's protests to the contrary, we rule over the animals. We have value because we are human. And humans have value because we are made in the image of our God.

When one comprehends the implications of this, it will prevent us from ever showing disrespect to God by disrespecting anyone made in his image.

Profanity and hateful comments are not acceptable because someone "lacks the vocabulary to adequately express himself." No, profanity and hurtful words are wrong because they show disrespect to a fellow human being made in the image of God. Euthanasia cannot be rationalized because all humans have value. Why? Simply because they are human. And abortion is not acceptable because it ignores that what you are right now is exactly what that unborn baby will become, if allowed to grow.

You have never seen a mere mortal—because as C. S. Lewis said, "There are no mere mortals." All mortals are God-designed and God-formed.

Do you remember that day in Jesus' ministry when some Jewish legalists approached the Teacher trying to trap him with the question: "Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" Seeing through their hypocrisy, Jesus zeroed in on the real issue: "‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax. They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘Whose portrait is this? And whose  inscription?' ‘Caesar's,' they replied. Then he said to them, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.' When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away" (Matthew 22, emphasis mine, niv).