When I look in a mirror I see my image. Same hair color. Same smile, nose, and eyes. I would be shocked if I saw someone else’s image.
Even if I look at myself in a carnival mirror, I still see myself but distorted. Depending on how much the mirror has been altered, others might not even recognize me in those mirrors.
So when the Bible says that I am created in the image of God, what does that really mean? What are the profound implications of being made in God’s image?
Imago Dei – the image of God
The idea of “God’s image” is first introduced in the Old Testament in Genesis 1:27.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” ESV
The Hebrew words for “the Image of God” are בְּצֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים . The Latin translation is Imago Dei. That is about as deep as we will go with language class here. (1)
What is important is the actual meaning or synonyms for the Hebrew word “Image”:
- representative figure
So we are like a mirror. We are not God, but we represent Him, reflect Him, and are in the likeness of God’s own image,
So what does this mean for us today? Why is it important? I am glad you asked.
Why does it matter that I was created in the image of God?
God created everything.
- Fish of the sea
- Birds of the heavens
- Every creeping thing (some not my favorite)
- All of the animal world
- Human beings
God gave to every living creature
- the breath of life.
- a way to have food and water
- a place to have shelter
God said It was all good and is for the glory of God.
We are spiritual beings with a moral compass
God’s creation is glorious in so many ways. But wild animals do not have a spirit that lives on forever. Only human life does.
Furthermore, we have a rudimentary sense of right and wrong which is not found in the animal world.
We are God’s representatives
Especially for Christians, this quote from Dr. David Jeremiah is so true.
“Every believer is a witness whether he wants to be or not.”
Because Jesus is not here physically, we are the “hands and feet” of Jesus to those who don’t know Him yet.
What are those around you observing in your life? Do they see the image of God or something else?
We have infinite value to God
Jesus did not die for animals. He died for us.
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 ESV
Scripture has a lot to say about how God feels about us. Look at these passages in the Old Testament:
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16 ESV
“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;” Isaiah 49:16″
God carefully planned and crafted our bodies and made note of everything we would ever do or say. Everything about our life from start to finish is important to HIm.
The verse from Isaiah reminds me of men in the military who get tattoos with the name of their sweethearts.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul also tells us about the faithfulness of God’s love.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Others may leave you, abandon you, or abuse you, but not God.
In another New Testament passage, it reads:
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God …” 1 John 3:1 ESV
How to live in the image of God
Since the first man and first woman rebelled against God, we all have struggled with being an accurate reflection of God.
Don’t live like a carnival mirror
Ever since the fall of mankind, human beings have acted like carnival mirrors. We choose to not follow God’s ways and represent God’s kingdom poorly.
The human condition and human character have been distorted by sin. We are still God’s creations but if left to our own devices, what people see in us is not what was intended in the beginning.
Here is how the Apostle Paul describes living like a carnival mirror.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
We can’t represent God accurately without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The good news is that you can start today being a “new self” because of God’s grace.
If you don’t know Jesus, you probably have questions. The people at Chat About Jesus are available to talk, chat, or text any time of the day or night with answers to your questions.
Related: Christian faith for beginners
Be an accurate reflection of God
Since we are new creations in Christ we now can represent God by reflecting God’s attributes to those around us This is possible because the the Holy Spirit living in us. It is called the fruit of the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
When we act like this, it is the perfect image of the invisible God.
1. Love is being created in the image of God
Jesus spoke these words:
” … you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 ESV
It is simple. Love God and love people which is not always a feeling.
Loving God means doing what He tells us to do in the Bible even when we don’t want to.
Loving people is wanting God’s best for others regardless of how we feel about them.
Praise God when the feelings accompany the actions. But until then we must faith it till we make it.
2. Joy is being created in the image of God
How would people describe your disposition? We don’t have to be “happy-go-lucky” all the time. Joy is a close kin to peace and is possible even when life is hard.
We develop joy by being in the presence of God as often as possible.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
3. Peace is being created in the image of God
What happens when your world starts to fall apart? Do you have the peace of God?
This quality is possible when we realize we are not alone in whatever we are going through. It is believing that God will bring something good from everything.
4. Patience is being created in the image of God
Oh, this one seems so hard for me. What about you? God gives us an example of what this looks like.
“He (God) does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities … As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:10, 13-14 ESV
God wants us to remember that those around us are dust. They are human.
- Some don’t know Jesus, or they would not be acting the way they do.
- Some are immature (children or adults) and still need to grow up.
- Some are going through a rough spot in life and are doing their best to cope and not fall apart.
There are all kinds of reasons why people irritate us because they are human and so are we.
5. Kindness is being created in the image of God
I have always loved this saying,
“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” (2)
God’s word teaches that we should be kind to each other.
None of us live perfectly. We distort God’s truth often. But for those who are part of God’s family, little by little we are being conformed to the image of Christ.
Let’s be kind to those around us because we never know what they may be going through.
6. Goodness is being created in the image of God
Would people describe you as a “good person”? Are you someone who looks for ways to help others?
Jesus demonstrated this often and even said that He did not come to be served but rather to serve us.
Related: Do you have a servant’s heart?
7. Faithfulness is being created in the image of God
Faithfulness has to do with keeping promises. Have you ever broken a promise? It can often nag at your conscience. That is the tugging of the Holy Spirit on your heart.
We often make promises hoping to gain the approval of others, then later realize it was unreasonable or unattainable. Because we can’t see the big picture, God warns us about it.
“ It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. Don’t let your mouth make you sin … ” Ecclesiastes 5:5-6 NLT
In contrast, God always keeps His promises and the whole Bible is full of them.
Related: When promises are broken
8. Gentleness is being created in the image of God
We need to treat others carefully as if they are fragile. The truth is many are. Harsh words and violence are not a part of the image of God.
9. Self-control is being created in the image of God
This word in the original language was mainly talking about sexual passions. When we let our desires get out of control, we hurt ourselves, often others, and are not being a good reflection of God.
A prayer for being created in the image of God
How I appreciate your life-giving Spirit. It makes me want to represent the nature of God accurately.
But I see the effect of sin in my life and ask you to forgive me when I don’t act loving, kind, or gentle.
Help me to be conformed each day to a walking, talking, living image of you.
In your name I pray, Amen.
You can download this prayer to use on social media or as an image on your computer screen. Here is the link.
You might also like to read: How to Develop the Fruit of the Spirit