What Does It Mean to be Made in the Image of God?
- Matt Chandler
- 2016 20 Apr
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
"So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27
The question of origin: “Who am I?”
The question of purpose: “Why am I here?” and
The question of design: “How do things work?” all find their root in Genesis 1:1.
This verse tells us we were created. And because we are the created and not the Creator, we are not the measure of anything. We're not the point.
That's hard because, if I can be honest, I like to be the point. I like everyone to defer to what I want, what I need and what I desire, and so do you. We all want to be the point, and when we feel like we're not the point, a lot of conflict is birthed.
Although we may not be the point, God did create us differently than the rest of the world. Genesis 1:26a and 27 say, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness’ … So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them”
But God didn’t stop there. Verse 31 adds a compelling completion to creation, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good”
That's the first time those words are used. Up until this point it was good, it was good, it was good, and now we have man and woman, and it's very good.
Imago Dei, The Image of God
In this passage, we get what theologians have called for a few millennia the Imago Dei, the image of God, and the idea that men and women are different from all of creation because we have been made in the image of God.
There are several things textually that take place in this passage of Scripture that start to reveal that truth. First, there's a break in the rhythm. It's not just, “I created this, and it was good. I created this, and it was good.” It was all of a sudden a conversation inside the Godhead: “Let us make mankind in our own image.” Us, Our. This conversation in the Godhead, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Out of the overflow of Their unity, joy and perfection, They began to paint Their glory on the canvas of creation. And then, in the vastness of this universe, on this tiny little dirt ball in one of the smaller solar systems in this expansive universe, God placed His crown jewel of all creation: men and women, made in His image and endowed with dominion and authority.
The Imago Dei is God's investment in humanity of God-like glory and moral capacity to reign and rule the earth as His representatives. This is what sets us apart.
What are the implications of the Imago Dei? There is an intrinsic human dignity that places us above everything else in the creative order.
Our Value in Bearing the Image of God
We have an intrinsic value because of the image God has given to us. It's not a functional thing as much as a gift from God. And it shapes how we view humanity — those we live side-by-side with and those we’ll never meet.
Yet we forget this amazing truth, and sin messes us up, and we treat each other in ways that must break God’s heart.
What if we could really grasp that we have intrinsic value because we are made in the image of God? The difference would be incredible. This is God’s beautiful design for us, and we were made to walk in this beauty.
Father, I thank You for our sameness. I thank You that we are brothers and sisters by Your design. May that truth shape how we view others, but first, may it shape how we view ourselves. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 43:6b-7, “Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth. Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.” (NASB)
If you’d like to exchange your broken and weary perspective on life for God’s beautiful design, you’ll appreciate A Beautiful Design, a 9‑session group study, featuring biblical teaching from Matt Chandler. E‑book and video sessions are also available.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Write one area where you consistently look to the world (created things) for purpose or meaning. What would change if you began to look toward God and His good design in that specific area?
For a deeper study of the image of God, read: 10 Things You Should Know About the Image of God