In the Image of God

We are made in God’s image, his likeness. At creation, God said the earth was good. Upon creation of man and woman, he decreed it very good. What does it mean to be created in His image? It is not a physical resemblance. Although our children may have a physical resemblance to us, people will often exclaim “He’s just like his father,” meaning that he acts like him, he has many of the same characteristics. 

Being made in the image of God means we bear the righteousness and holiness of God. God’s attributes are perfect. Even though we aren’t perfect, we can reflect His love, grace, mercy, and so on. Since we are not perfect, we can’t perfectly reflect those attributes. But we can try. These attributes are what makes us distinctly human.

There are two implications to this. First, we are beings of immense value. God values us.  We have His attributes. We are human. Psalm 8:4-6 tells us (GNV) “what are human beings, that you think of them;    mere mortals, that you care for them? Yet you made them inferior only to yourself; you crowned them with glory and honor. You appointed them rulers over everything you made.” This passage is translated in various ways, but I believe this translation captures the meaning of the text. We, humans, are second only to God,  Hebrews 2:7 is a similar passage, reading “You have made him for a little while lower than the angels,” referring to Jesus when he was crucified.

So, in a simplified heavenly hierarchy God is supreme. We are in a position just below Him. We don’t become angels, that’s a step down. Angels are not in His image. 

The second implication of being created in God’s image carries with it certain expectations about our relationships.

The first implication  is in our relationship to God. Genesis 1:26 affirms that we are made in His image, being in His image is what makes us human. Nothing else is all of God’s creation is like us. That makes us pretty special. Every. one. of. us. 

Second is our relationship to others. In Mark 12 Jesus was asked “What is the greatest commandment?” I am sure that scribe was seeking a “ranking” of the Ten Commandments. But Jesus wasn’t about to fall into that trap. He, in essence, summarized them into two overriding commandments. “Love God, Love Your Neighbor.” Our expectation is to love. Every human being we encounter is someone made in the image of God. That person has value, he or she is created in God’s image, just as we are. Regard them and treat them with great worth.

Third is our relationship to self. In many ways this is an extension of the previous expectation. We are to put ourselves in proper relationships with God and with others. Hebrews 12 tells us to pursue peace with everyone and be holy (dedicated, set apart).

Fourth, is our relationship to Earth. In Genesis 2:15, God placed human kind in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and to keep it. We have stewardship over the Earth. We are in charge of taking care of God’s creation.

How awesome to realize that we are in God’s image. But it carries a tremendous responsibility. Vow to live in a way that people will see God in us. And let us also see God in others.

Published by John Stancil

John Stancil is a retired college professor and CPA living in Lakeland FL. John has always been active in his church, fulfilling a variety of roles. He has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations, usually faith-based. He is married and has two children and three grandchildren. Writing has always been a passion of his and he was widely published in professional accounting journals. He’s frequently written other types of articles primarily about his faith. John is a big sports fan, especially hockey, baseball, and soccer. He enjoys a wide variety of concerts and music as well as live theater. He is an avid reader. He holds a Doctor of Business Administration degree from the University of Memphis, an MBA from the University of Georgia, and a BS in Accounting from Mars Hill University. John grew up in Asheville, NC and has lived in Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, and now Florida. He loves to travel, especially cruising. Several years ago he traveled to Ghana on a mission trip to distribute 4,000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

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