What does it actually mean to be "made in God's image"?
Across the world, we look, act, and think very differently about almost every imaginable thing. Do we have any commonalities that transcend our differences?
We all share free will, we all share the ability to love, we all share the ability-- in fact, the need--to connect with others and be in relationship with other humans. Recent studies have also suggested we are healthier and happier if we enjoy regular exposure to nature and beautiful natural settings. We feel deep connection to those we have loved, even if they are no longer living on the earth. We were created for love, beauty, relationship, and eternity.
The Fall happened at some point early in human history. Although I don't believe the Bible teaches what some have called the "total depravity of mankind", something tragically and deeply damaging happened to humanity and we have not escaped the consequences of that damage.
In the Genesis account, God told Adam and Eve (Man and Mother) if they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would die. Why did God make this tree, if God (an all-knowing Being) knew Adam and Eve would eventually eat from the tree? That is a reasonable question.
Love is not possible without a choice. Without choice, one may have existence, but not love. First and foremost, we were created for love: to know it, to enjoy it, and to express it. Love requires free will. Free will requires the ability to make a choice. If you can't make a choice, you really can't exercise your free will.
Did God "tempt" humanity by placing the "bad tree" in the garden? Please note there was only one tree from which Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat. Everything else was open and available to them without limitation.
The tree represented not simply food to eat, but apparently this "knowledge of good and evil" was not just an intellectual understanding. "Knowledge" in Scripture often refers to a process or event that connotes "becoming" that which you "know."
Did Adam and Eve actually die because they are from the tree? According to the Scripture, they continued to live in the world, and had children. Although Eve's death is not mentioned the Bible, Genesis states the relative time of Adam's death and his age at his death. Isn't this a confusing contradiction?
Physically, Adam and Eve did not die for many years after the eating from the tree. However, that spiritual part of them---the part most like God their Father and Maker--the love, the beauty, the relationship, etc.-- died immediately. These elements of personality were not resurrected in the children of Adam and Eve. In fact, within one generation, murder, envy, alienation, and anger entered the human family. These things have been with us ever since. If we could free ourselves of these elements on our own, certainly we would have done it along ago.
Some have said this early account of humanity's "fall" is simply a fairy tale, suitable only for the foolish, the simple-minded, or the mentally lazy.
Still, it is undeniable that we reject injustice, we all long for love, we feel happier when we can share ourselves with others, and we do not forget or cease to care for those who have left the earthly experience. All of these elements of personality are completely in line with how Scripture describes our origins, the reasons for our creation, and the sadness of our loss of a close connection with our Maker.
What can we do about all of this?
Reach out to God--ask whatever question you have, express your fear, frustration, and anger, ask to be healed and freed from the sin that has cursed so many lives for so long. God reaches back to each person who reaches out. According to Scripture, a day when come when all of Earth will be brought back to its original purpose and nature. We're not there yet, but today you can be brought to the awareness and the purpose and the direction that will bring you peace and a life worth living.