The Image of God

We are made in the image of God. Theologians call this the imago dei. The idea is that we are like God in substance. This means that we don’t look like God in the normal sense. God doesn’t have a look because He is spirit. Of course, Jesus did have a look, because He was a man. But when God says that He will make man in His image he means something other than just looks.

This is sometimes called the “substantive view” of the imago dei. We are created in the image of God and that manifests itself in certain characteristics that God has given us that are also found in Himself. Characteristics such as holiness, immortality, and love.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself that if God has these same characteristics of holiness, immortality and love that I have, then God isn’t much of a god. After all, holiness in man is a rare trait – as 9/11, Columbine, and the aftermath of Katrina testify. Immortality? No one lives forever – we all die. And love? See “holiness” above!

Yet, I contend that these are the very things that God has given us when He created us in His image, as recorded in Genesis 1. But remember, that Genesis 1 is not the end of the story. There was an event in Genesis 3 that sheds light on why the imago dei is so lacking in man today.

The image of God in us was marred almost beyond recognition when the human race fell into sin. Vestiges are still there – there is still a capacity to holiness and love, and we will still live forever, even though our bodies will deteriorate and die eventually.

While the image of God was virtually lost in the Fall, in God’s mercy it is restored in us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This happens to us through the working of the Holy Spirit through the means of Grace – God’s Word and Sacraments. In Holy Baptism, God recreates us. We are “born again,” as Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3. It is an ongoing, daily, process and will be complete when we enter into the new heaven and new earth that Jesus is preparing for us.

We can live in this new image daily through repentance of our sin and receiving the forgiveness of our sins through God’s Word. This has the effect of transforming our lives every day.

From Man of God: Finding Purpose in an Uncertain World.

©2009 True Men Ministries.

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