Image of God
More than once I had someone tell me that seminary is often called cemetery because your faith goes there to die. Most people said it to be funny, but others said it as a caution. I heard that study of doctrine would just lead to head knowledge without any practical application in real life My time in seminary did the exact opposite. The study of doctrine made me fall more in love with God. I realized that doctrine has real and practical applications to all areas of life. We need doctrine to make sense of God, humanity, suffering, sin, and the solution to sin.
One doctrine that I have been thinking about lately is the image of God and how it applies to current events.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and everything in the earth. The pinnacle of God’s creation was the human race. Genesis 1:26-27 reveals that humans have been created in God’s image after His likeness. Genesis 5:1-3 repeats that man has been made in the image of God. This is an important verse because it shows that man is still made in God’s image after the fall. The New Testament repeats this truth in James 3:9. This verse tells us that we should not curse others because all men have been made in God’s likeness. The Bible doesn’t separate believers and unbelievers as image bearers. All people are image bearers. The most holy saint and the most corrupt sinner are still image bearers.
We are created in His likeness in our moral, spiritual, mental, relational, and even our physical aspect. 1 I think it is incredible that our bodies reflect God! God doesn’t have eyes, but he can still see everything. He doesn’t have ears, but he still hears our prayers. This is why God forbids the Israelites from making a carved image of Himself. He has already created images of Himself.
We are still image bearers after the fall, but it can be said that this image has been perverted by the fall. All of our deeds and morals are tainted by sin. Humans no longer respond to God in the way they should. Human relationships with each other have been distorted as well. Instead of showing love towards our fellow man we often think of them as an annoyance.
Implications of the Image of God
Worth and Dignity – Every human being is valuable! We cannot forget this truth. This is why we stand up against abortion, racism, sexism, and nationalism. Babies both born and unborn are made in the image of God. God has sovereignly created different tribes, tongues and nations. One day all of us will fall down and worship God. God has made male and female and both have been given unique roles
For a class project I had to interview someone from another culture. I interviewed a bunch of Muslim kids that hung out and played basketball at a friend’s house. My heart broke as I was talking to them. They all recalled stories of people telling them to “go back to Somalia.” Some of them were born in the United States. Others laughed and said they weren’t from Somalia. The words of these people made them feel like less than image bearers.
Viewing others Accurately –Are we looking at individuals as a whole or are we painting a caricature of them? So often we think the worst of people and they become an enemy. We are quick to cancel people instead of understanding them. If you can’t say anything positive about the person, it probably means you are looking at them through a skewed lens.
Language matters when talking about someone! I had a seminary professor go on a rabbit trail about how much he hates joke about women. He concluded by saying, “you can’t make fun of women and think you are treating them with respect and honor.” I never forgot that lesson.
Evangelism – Everybody we come in contact with is an eternal being made in the image of God. Even if the person is someone who is contemptible, that person is someone made in God’s image. We should treat them with love and care because of this single fact. We should look at people as a broken reflection of God who will someday be in heaven or hell. This reality should cause use to share the good news with everybody.
Christian Character – I recently had a mentor ask me why it is important to be truthful? I fumbled out an answer. He then went on to say the most important reason to be truthful is because we are imitators of God. God is true, loving, gracious, merciful, and just. We imitate God’s character as a way to display the image of God. The Bible reveals to us Who we should reflect.
Questions to ask
- How does the doctrine of the image of God apply to current events: Racism, Sexism, Immigration, Theological Differences, Politics, Abortion, and Sexuality?
- Is any of your language inadvertently tearing down others? What about comments on social media posts? What about the thoughts in your hearts about others?
- Are there any attitudes towards a person or people group that hinders ministering to them? (Pastor Greg asked this question in his Palm Sunday sermon)
- What does my Christian character say about God? Are there areas that I am doing well in displaying God? Are there areas I need to repent
1Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 446-448. and ask for God’s help?