Reflections on Genesis: Imago Dei

Last week at the One Cup blog, we began riffing off some of the foundational truths found within the creation story of Genesis. In Eden In the Everyday: Letting God Define your Goodness, we saw how the theme of goodness has developed throughout scripture, man’s definition was tainted through the fall, and God’s perfect goodness, through Jesus Christ, is offered for man to choose to follow, culminating in man’s sanctification to enact God’s goodness within creation. This week, we are exploring another critical theme, the image of God, and how it should impact our lives.

In the literary context of Genesis 1, the 5 first days all are critical elements in the life and welfare of man. On the sixth day of creation, before His rest, God creates man in His image and ordains him to rule over His cosmos. In order to facilitate this, God makes man in His image, an often-misinterpreted concept.

Many newer readers of scripture believe that, in some way, man and God look similar; however, צֶ֫לֶם, the word for image, is used when referring to idols, see Amos 5:25-27 as an example. An idol is simply an image that represents some other concept that would elicit a response from its viewer. Not to sound profane, but, in some way, man functions as an idol for YHWH upon the Earth. We are to represent Him, provoke His worship, and, through being led by His goodness, make His world better.

As we saw in the previous post, the fall ruined man’s original purpose and demanded his redemption. As Christians, we have been bought by the blood of Jesus to break the cycle of sin and recreate man into his new and greater purpose. While we still live in a sinful world, our labor is to facilitate the good works of God whilst we are surrounded by brokenness. Thus, looking through the lens of the image of God, it should significantly impact all that we do as Christians, here are two personal and communal examples.

Being an image of God should enable and inspire a drive within yourself to act and walk out a purpose. A lot of people I meet struggle with finding their purpose in life. Whether it’s choosing a major in college, whether to stay in a current job or not, or even finding a hobby, be encouraged that the interests and investments of time that you involve yourself can be worshipful and become an outpouring of God’s glory upon the Earth. You may hate your job, but God is using you in it. As discussed previously, the work that we do on Earth, whether religious or secular, requires excellence, as we represent God and His people. Therefore, take pride in the giftings, work, and areas God has called you into, as they are areas of influence for His Kingdom. Often, if we are confused

I touched on this last week, but I am often amazed at the wide array of morality I see within Christian circles. Most every Christian you talk to has some has some opinion on people that don’t seem to look or act like them, and they often can give some kind of justification for their prejudice. For instance, growing up in the south, I have seen rampant racism exude from many unlikely individuals, including many devout Christians; however, no matter the individual, whether it be immigrants, homosexuals, people of different races, socio-economic backgrounds, cultures, etc., they are all made in the image of God. It was this very concept that caused Jesus to reach out to all people, including those looked-down-upon by society, despite the backlash he received from the religious elite. As he discusses the evils of the tongue, James 3:9 states, “With the tongue we praise our LORD and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.”

Despite exhibiting the grace given to us by God, Christians have gained a reputation for prejudice and blatant judgement, plain and simple. In the Torah, the concept of loving one’s neighbor is set in direct correlation with loving God. As Jesus would later state, all of the Law, all good and holy things and actions, must come from a place of loving God and your neighbor. As we are all made in the image of God, tainted as humanity is by sin, we have a duty, a redeemed calling, to influence the world around us and exhibit God’s goodness, love, and holiness. No matter your giftings or calling, who you or others call you, God has amazing things for you. You’re alive to make a difference in God’s good creation. Don’t let the world’s definition of man poison the image He has died to redeem, but instead, become the greatest version of yourself, through your Lord and savior, and change the atmosphere for His glory.

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