Imago Dei, part 2

There is so much more to this thing about “being made in God’s image” than I really want to take time to discuss. All I want to do is share some thoughts from a few different angles.

Found this picture. Had to add it. ūüėÄ

Last time we looked at the job that God intends for his image bearers to carry out – tending to, caring for, and ruling over the rest of creation. This is the first and foremost responsibility given to human beings. That word “responsibility” will come into play several more times.

So here are some more thoughts on the Imago Dei. I’ll try and keep it brief.

1. All humans are created in God’s image. That’s right. All¬†humans bear His image – male and female; red, yellow, black, and white; rich and poor; slave and free; alcoholics, homosexuals, and devout Christians. We have a tendency to place people into various categories when we encounter those different from ourselves. We see a middle-aged, black female who is a single mother living on welfare. Judgments are made, and stereotypes are created.

But when we let the truth of Imago Dei really sink in and take root in our own lives, we will begin to see everyone around us as fellow image-bearers. Prejudice and discrimination have no chance to manifest themselves. Hatred, bigotry, and oppression cease completely. Everyone is made in the image of the same Creator, and that Creator loves each one of us.

2. The image has been tainted. Each one of us has vandalized the very image of the One who created us. Although we have been given this great privilege, we have thrown it back in His face. We think things like, We never asked for this! We never wanted to live up to the standard which God has set for us! It’s not fair. It’s too much responsibility. I just want to live my life the way that seems best to me.

And we just go our own way, minding our own business, not giving a second thought to the honor bestowed upon us.

This type of thinking then leads to a radically¬†individualistic¬†mindset. The product of which is the type of justification for sin that we see all around us. Lady Gaga even puts the justification to song and dance with her new hit “Born This Way.” If we reject the image of God for our own image, then we have no responsibility other than to ourselves. It comes quite naturally, then, that we were hardwired from birth to make certain decisions with our lives: be it alcoholism, drug addiction, habitual lying, homosexuality, or any number of lifestyles which are considered sinful in Scripture.

3. The image can be restored. God has taken it upon himself to provide a way for his tainted image to be made clear again. He did this by coming down to earth as a man, living from birth to death as one of his own imagers. He showed us what it meant to be human, to be the image of God in this world – and we killed him for it.

Yet, through his resurrection from the dead, we, too, can have true life once again. By his blood, we are made clean. By his wounds, we are healed. By his sacrifice, humanity can be set right again, and we can all get back to bearing proudly the image of the One who made us and then re-made us.

Imago Dei, part 1

Why are we here?

This is a fundamental worldview question with which mankind has wrestled since the beginning. Although we ourselves are mammals, and although we share many similar qualities with certain other mammals, when I look around, I can tell there is something unique about human beings. I have heard people say that the only characteristic separating us from the rest of the animal kingdom is our intelligence. Yet there are animals that are extremely intelligent and community oriented, just like us. (And according to others, humans are only the third smartest race on the planet…)

So what is it that really separates man from beast? I believe the answer to this question is also the answer to the original question: the Imago Dei, or the Image of God for you non-Latin speakers.

It is true that humanity is closely linked with the rest of the animal kingdom. Mammals and humans were created on the same day. Genesis 1:20 even says that all the animals have the “breath of life” in them – the same breath given to Adam.

The real difference comes when God says,¬†‚ÄúLet us make human beings¬†in our image, to be like us.”

Ok, so humans made in the image of the Creator. This is something new, something special. God actually stepped back for a moment, looked at all He had created, and decided to create beings to bear his image to the rest of creation. Well, why?

Apparently, being one of God’s mini-me’s comes with a job description: “They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground”…Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

I chose the New Living Translation for this passage. Unfortunately, the job description/blessing given in these verses has been misinterpreted and abused. People used to understand “rule over/have dominion over” as permission to do with the earth and the animals as we saw fit…and we see how well that worked out. The world is not ours to do with as we please. As the NLT puts it, we are to reign over and govern the rest of creation.

Think of it as a prime minister/ambassador/vassal king position. We are ruling, watching over, and tending to that which ultimately belongs to someone else. We have been given the charge to participate with the Creator in the creative process by tending to, caring for, and governing the rest of creation.

There are other aspects to the Imago Dei which I will explore later, but first I wanted to address the most obvious side of the image of God. Each and every one of us continues to bear the image of the Creator to the rest of creation. Are we making every effort to live up to that image? 
Or are we living as though we have no responsibility to the world around us? Are we healing or destroying? Are we creating or killing? Are we caring or exploiting?

In every aspect of our lives, we should be striving to bear proudly the image of the One who lovingly created it all.