What Does It Mean To Be Created In God’s Image

As Christians, Jesus challenges us to live in the world as we are made in his image and likeness every day.

The question in the title of this piece is, in a way, a trick question. The only real answer to it is, “Everything.” As Genesis 1:27-28 puts it, “God created man in his image; in the divine image, he created them; male and female he created them.” This seemingly simple statement reveals the central reality of our nature as human beings, or to put it another way, as children of God.

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We are not just accidents of evolution as some believe today. Our nature, unlike the nature of any other created thing in the universe, is profoundly unique, as it alone is made in the very image of the Creator. What is described here is an intentional act, a divine choice. It describes something even more important than that, as it reveals a relationship, and intimate relationship between God and us, unlike that of any other creature or thing in all of creation. This thought is worthy of a lifetime of contemplation.

What does this intimate relationship imply for us? The first thing it points to is the intentions of God in creating us were one of absolute love. We are talking about real love here, not the distorted, ego-centric sense of love that is so prevalent in the world today. It clearly implies that God’s love is vaster than the universe, able to encompass all that is seen in the seemingly endless expanse of space by our most sophisticated telescopes and everything in the equally vast reality of subatomic reality that can be seen by our most powerful microscopes. But within that unspeakable vastness of all that is, he chose only one being in all of that to make in his image and likeness. We cannot escape another reality in this statement either, that is, he made us male and female, both equally made in his divine image. Reality, therefore, is binary, no matter how much certain ideological fallacies of the modern world argue otherwise.

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But what is the most important reality we gain from this statement in Genesis? It’s that our nature, our very personhood, since it is made in the divine image of our Father, possesses infinite dignity. Because of this, every human life, in reality, has infinite worth and is worthy of infinite respect. It is reality’s greatest sadness and shame, that this knowledge has yet to be owned and honored in our world. Only Christianity recognizes this truth and it is to our shame that it is not honored even among those who believe. To believe that every human being is made in the divine image should mean “everything” to us. It has everything to do with how we ought to treat ourselves and one another.

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To truly understand this, one gets a whole new understanding of the life, words, and deeds of Jesus Christ. If we understand and believe this, then, Jesus’ commandment to us to love one another as I have loved you” ought to change the way we see everything and everyone. If you believe this, everything that Jesus says in the his Sermon on the Mount, or in his parables like the Good Samaritan, or the story of the woman at the well, should take on a fuller sense of meaning for us. As Christians, Jesus challenges us to live in the world as true children made in the image and likeness every day. To live in the knowledge that we are made in God’s image and likeness means everything and changes everything.

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