Whose Image do we bear?
Bible Lesson: Genesis 1:26-31
Theme Verse: Vs. 26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness”
In the Grace Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Dr. Russell Conwell, preached God’s Word powerfully to his congregation. As he used to preach from his pulpit he also focused on the inscribed words on the back, “We would see Jesus.” These words were visible only to the preacher. They were placed there at his own request. It was his desire to present Christ to the great congregation. He was voted the first citizen of Philadelphia in recognition of the Christ-likeness of his character. The greatest challenge for Christians is to live according to the Word of God. The world expects from us to live up to the claims that we make for Christ. They want to see a visible demonstration of His image ruling in our lives. It’s true we do make extra ordinary claims about Jesus but when it comes to reflect His likeness and image then we make excuses. Even on his death bed, Charles Wesley a renowned preacher longed to be satisfied with God’s likeness: His dying words were “I shall be satisfied with thy likeness – satisfied, satisfied!” Our ultimate desire should be to become like Jesus. If we are not bearing His image then the question is whose image are we bearing?
The sixth day of creation was the most exciting day for God and for us when God created us in His own image and likeness. The phrase ‘Let us‘ shows the special involvement of Triune God in creating us. We should know that we are not an ordinary creation or the product of evolution but we are the workmanship of God created in Christ Jesus with a purpose to do good works (Eph. 2:10). The privilege that we receive from our Creator is to be like Him. I’m sure when God created us He was not trying to create a distinction between us and with the rest of the creation. But through us He planned to be actively involved in His creation as God’s representatives on the earth. Probably, He wanted that the rest of the creation should see God in us. Hence God’s purpose in creating human life in His image was functional. Human creation is really unique. On one hand we were created from the dust which shows our association with rest of the creation so that we may not think that we are heavenly beings while on the other hand our creation in God’s image reflects our close association with Him. To be in the ‘image and likeness of God’ we are called to have a perfect relationship with Him as well as with rest of the creation.
What is the image of God in human? To be in God’s image humans share God’s character, nature, attribute, and His moral, ethical and intellectual abilities. In other words it refers to the mental and spiritual faculties along with His persona that humans share with Him. The Hebrew word for the ‘image’ is ‘selem’ means ‘a duplicate.’ Ellen White suggests that a large part of this “image of God” refers to human mind: “Man was formed in the likeness of God. His nature was in harmony with the will of God. His mind was capable of comprehending divine things.” In ancient Egypt and Babylonian cultures the king was usually called the image of God. However, Genesis creation account asserts that the image of God is not confined to kings or lords or popes but to every individual. In Proverbs 22:2 it is written, Rich and poor have this common: The Lord is the Maker of them all. When God made covenant with Noah after the great flood, He instructed them not to kill any human because of their creation in God’s image. We need to honour and value every human being as the image bearer of God. In Him everyone is equal.
After the fall, sin took control of our lives and we forgot that we were created in the image of God. We do share His persona but our image is tarnished due to sin. Since then we became conscious about our image. In great desperation we started to search our image in the created things (such as in monkeys and other human inventions) rather in God. Today’s human image is assessed by the amount of money, power and position one posses. Unfortunately, by forgetting our Creator we have created our own images and started to worship them. In this post modern world we have to ask ourselves whose image do we bear? Vinoth Ramchandra writes, “Our humanity is found in worship of the One who gives us life, life in all its fullness, and who calls us to share His glory as His image bearers.” We have only one way to regain our tarnished image and it is only through God’s Son our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the image of the invisible God, radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature. When we accept Jesus as our personal savior then He begins the work of restoration and transforms us in His image. Long back an interesting research was conducted by Robert Zajonc, a psychologist at the University of Michigan. The study revealed that Couples who originally bore no particular resemblance to each other at the time of marriage were found to resemble each other after 25 years of their married life, although the resemblance may be subtle. Further it stated that the more marital happiness a couple reported, the greater their increase in facial resemblance. Older couples have more resemblance in facial appearance as well as in nature. Similarly, when we spend more time with Jesus then we are renewed into His likeness. Paul said that those who have been raised to eternal life in Christ ‘have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him’ (Col. 3:10). Ultimately, we ‘are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit’ (2 Corinth. 3:18).