1. Made in God’s Image: What Does It Mean?

1. Made in God’s Image: What Does It Mean?

1. Made in God’s Image: What Does It Mean?

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… So God made man; in the image of God He made him; male and female He made them.” (Genesis 1:26-27).

“What is the mission of man? To be a reminder of God. As God is compassionate, let man be compassionate. As God strives for meaning and justice, let man strive for meaning and justice. If we are created in the image of God, each human being should be a reminder of God’s presence.” (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel).

When God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…,” to whom was God speaking? Let’s assume that God wasn’t speaking just to hear Himself talk. Was there anyone to talk to at that early stage of creation? One Hebrew scholar suggested that this was a “general hint of a distinction in the divine personality.” (Zodhiates). Notice too that God is using plural pronouns like ‘Us” and “Our,” as well as “image” in the singular. Multiple People holding one image… What else could that point to but an early reference to the Holy Trinity? In creation, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were working on a group project. So, when God spoke, there was indeed someone listening. The Father was speaking to the Son. When God said to make man in divine image, the Father was suggesting to the Son what the next step in creation would be. It appears that when the Trinity created mankind, they already had within them a prototype… Jesus the Son. Yes, when man was created, God had Jesus in mind. Why? Because Jesus was the perfect image of God for all eternity, the exact representation of God, the divine likeness of the Father (2 Cor. 4:4; Col 1:15; Heb. 1:3). So Christ is the image in which man was made. As Father Reardon puts it, “Christ is the original meaning of humanity.” Man and woman were created in the image of Christ. Both genders are gifted with the dignity that comes with being image-bearers of Jesus Christ. Both genders have the honor of being made in the likeness of God Himself.

So if we were created in the image of Christ, what does that mean for us? For one thing, being image-bearers, we have found our central identity as human beings. We have discovered our self-identity. We need not go through an identity crisis. Along with our identity, we have found our life purpose, our mission. We know that we are intended to represent God in the world. We are God’s ambassadors. As representatives, we were gifted with what is needed to resemble Christ, who is the original version of the Trinity’s image. We were made to be living reminders of God, displaying God’s nature in Christ. We were created to imitated the attributes of God’s character, to mirror God’s very essence. As image-bearers, our destiny is to be like God, to live into His likeness.

As image-bearers, God has given us the freedom to reflect His nature responsibly. Made in His image, we are equipped to be creative, and to think with reason, using our imaginations and our reason with the brain God has given us. Reflecting His image, we are intended to exercise our God-given conscience, discerning right from wrong, wise from unwise. As image-bearers, we have been gifted with the ability to make moral judgments, operating within the context of a moral universe. Made in God’s image, we have been given the sacred duty of caring for and managing God’s astounding and beautiful creation. A part of our job description as human beings is to be good stewards of God’s created order.

Made in the Trinitarian image, we were created to be relational. The Holy Trinity is an eternal, intimate community of Three, a divine fellowship that is everlasting. So made in that image, we find fulfillment and satisfaction in community, in relationship. To be fully human, we need to be in meaningful relationship with others. We will be fully alive when we love others and are loved by others. If God is love, and He is, then being made in His image means we are people of love.

Finally, being made in God’s image, we have been gifted with a piece of eternity. Each human being has been given a soul and spirit that reflects the essence of God’s being. We each are living souls, talking spirits, body and soul tightly woven in a way that can’t be torn apart. We each breathe the very breath of the Holy Spirit. We have an indivisible part of us that is spiritual in nature, because that is what God is. Thus each person is sacred, each person has a holy center in his being that sets us apart from the rest of all creation. Our identity as image-bearers is just as much spiritual as it is physical. Sanctity of life is a truth that is rooted in the sacred image of Christ in whom we were made. And God’s image in us means that we reflect His eternal status, His everlasting existence.