Made in God’s image

In my next few posts I want to expore the topic of our human nature.   Since people are usually interested in themselves, these topics could be good discussion starters for small groups.

Let’s start with the concept that we are made in God’s image.   This is a basic Biblical principle.  But what does it really mean?

In the ancient world, kings would erect little statues of themselves at the borders of their realm.  The image looked enough like the king that everyone who saw it would recognize it.  It represented the king’s authority and power – it was a way of saying “This territory belongs to the King”.   So when the book of Genesis says that God made humankind in his image, this is very significant.  Genesis goes on to say that God assigned us the task of governing the created world.  This means we are put in charge of the earth on His behalf, and that we represent His rule and authority on earth.

Being made in God’s image also means that we are intended to be like God.   I’ll explore some implications of this idea in my next few posts.  God’s original intent was that we would have unbroken fellowship with Him, and that our lives would reflect His glory and goodness on earth.  We see this only imperfectly because the original couple gave into the snake’s deception and chose independence, turning against God.   If we had never sinned, this likeness would be far more evident and complete.

Even so, there is a nobility in the human spirit that reflects our origins.   St. Augustine, one of the greatest writers and thinkers in all of Christian history, said that human nature is like a ruined palace.  Although it is in ruins, you can still see the outlines of the glory that was originally intended by its creator.  Although human beings have become capable of much evil, we have many capacities that distinguish us from the animal kingdom and reflect our unique place as carriers of God’s image.   We’ll look at some of these in the next few posts.

The image of God in us is also a clue to where we are headed.  The New Testament tells us that tells us that Jesus our Lord is a perfect reflection of God’s glory, and that the destiny of those who belong to Jesus is to be made like Him.

For discussion and reflection :

  • What difference does it make in the way you live your life to know that you were made in God’s image, and are destined to reflect Christ’s glory?
  • What difference does it make in the way you treat others or think about them to realize that they, too, are made in his image, no matter how damaged they may be?