Made: Imago Dei –
I love preaching about the image of God. When you stop to think about what Scripture teaches about creation, you should be led to wonder and awe. God created the world out of love, and in love, everything God made was good. The crown jewel of God’s creation is man and woman. On the sixth day of creation, we read:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
– Genesis 1:27
What does it mean to be made in the image of God? First, there are specific qualities possessed by God that a man or woman possesses. For example, God is love. Likewise, all people possess the ability to love. Of course, God’s love is perfect, but we can understand the likeness between God and humanity with the attribute of love. To further make my point, my dog Winston, who is the best dog ever created by God, does not possess the ability to love like God and man. Sure he wags his tail with pleasure. He licks my face like I am going through a car wash. But there is a distinct difference between the love a man and woman extends to another person (especially in marriage) and the “love” my dog extends to me.
There are also attributes of God that do not translate to God’s image-bearers. The omnipresence and infinity of God are characteristics of God and not in man. If you dare to dust off a systematic theology book, you might read terms such as communicable and incommunicable attributes of God. If you let the categories stand, what makes God and man alike are the communicable attributes, like love.
Here is a second point I want to make about being made in God’s image. With all the diversity and distinctions, people are more alike than they are different because all people are in God’s image. I think this truth has the power to cut through some of the division that exists today. Yes, every person is created uniquely by God (see Psalm 139), but saying that every person is made in God’s image is nothing to sniff at.
Third, and related to my second point, it is precisely because all people are made in God’s image that diversity can be celebrated. Everything from ethnic, racial, generational, gender, and cultural diversity are to be celebrated because of what makes every person alike – being made in God’s image.
The Damage Done
And then the wheels fell off the wagon. Our first parents could not keep one commandment. One. Not 10. Not 613. Just one. God told Adam that he could eat of everything in the garden except from one tree. If they eat from that tree, he and Eve will die (Genesis 2:16). You would think the threat of death would compel any reasonable person to obey. Perhaps grab some barbwire and create a barricade around the tree. If you really want the fruit from that tree, at least it will come with several gashes.
But as it is, Adam and Eve disobeyed. Sin is introduced to the world. God kicks Adam and Eve out of the garden, and in the next chapter, we read about how sin infected everything. Cain decided to kill his brother Able. Not a great showing for God’s image-bearers.
The result of sin entering the world is that the stain of sin mars every person. Instead of the purity and righteousness of Adam and Eve before the fall, humanity is born out of the womb polluted and unrighteous. Sin didn’t remove God’s image from man, but sin disfigured the image. It’s like looking at a cloudy mirror. You can see a glimpse of what God was up to, but it’s not all clear.
Remade: In Christ
So now what? Is it possible for man and woman to reclaim what has been lost? The answer is yes. We read in 2 Corinthians,
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Believers in Christ have a “new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10). Christians grow in faith and “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18.)
A part of God’s plan of redemption is to see God’s image-bearers remade. A person cannot be remade by their own volition. A person cannot be remade by “finding their inner self.” A person cannot be remade by going to church or being a nice person. A person is remade when God gives faith to a person to believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. When a person believes by faith in the gospel, a person is made pure and righteous in the sight of God. You say you still sin, eh? I got you. Jesus died on the cross to forgive his people for their sins. Being remade in Christ (see everything between Ephesians 1-3) reverses the curse from the garden. Yes, there is remaining sin, but there will be a day when Jesus will come back to finish what he has begun.