Friday, January 25, 2019

The Image of God

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27).

What does it mean to be made in the image of God? Mormonism maintains that human beings are the literal offspring of “God” and that “God” exists in a body. Because Christianity believes in creation ex nihilo, such unsubstantiated Mormon-like beliefs have no place in our faith. God created the physical universe and thus cannot Himself be physical.

The traditional Christian view of the image of God distinguishes between His image in the broader and narrower senses. In the broader sense, man is the image of God in all that he is, with the result that he governs the creation. In the narrower sense, man is to image God’s holiness and righteousness. Thus, it is held that when man sinned, he lost the image in the narrow sense, but retained it in the broad sense. This position’s strong point emphasizes the spiritual and moral characteristics at the core of humanity. Its weak point is its tendency to separate these spiritual qualities from the physical aspect of humanity.

The basic meaning of the Hebrew term "image" lies in the area of reflection. Man has the capacity to mirror God and is called to do so. He is to reflect the holiness of God to all creation. We see this by looking at the fulfillment of the image of God in the New Testament in Jesus Christ. As the second Adam, Jesus shows what it means to be the image of God. Jesus fully obeyed God and showed forth His justice to the world. As a result of Jesus being the perfect image of God (Hebrews 1:3) seen most actively in His faithfulness, Jesus was given dominion over all creation. Thus, as we are renewed in the image of God, we are called to be faithful in reflecting God in all that we do.

In his sin, Adam refused to be an image bearer. He did not want to be like God in the sense of reflecting Him through submitting to Him. Rather, Adam wanted to be like God in the sense of being the same as God. Thus, Adam distorted what it meant to be the image of God in the narrow sense, and that distortion corrupted the whole of his life and the image in the broader sense.

In your prayers today, ask God to show you more fully what it means to reflect Him in your home, your school, or in your work. Think about what you have to do today and lay those responsibilities before Him. Ask Him to make you a better mirror of His holiness and glory.