Section 3: Humanity
Week 3: God Created Us in His Image
Day 1: We Were Created to Reflect God’s Image to the World
Gen. 1:1 – 2:2
According to Genesis, God created us in his image (Gen. 1:26-27). When defining the term “image of God,” theologians often focus on this or that characteristic. Many, for example, point to reason or the intellect. The image of God certainly includes the intellect, but it is more than that. The image of God refers to any way we are similar to God.[i] We’ll discuss some of the specific ways we reflect God’s image in the upcoming readings. But we need to take a step back for a moment because to be created in God’s image is a much bigger deal than just possessing a certain set of characteristics.
When we think of an image, we tend to think in terms of appearance, something that looks like someone or something else. The Hebrew word for “image” in Gen. 1:26-27, however, goes beyond appearance. An “image” of a person (e.g. a king or a god) was considered to be an actual embodiment of that person’s essence. Gods, for example, were thought to work through their images, and the image of a king served as a representation of his authority.[ii]
If we apply that to ourselves, we realize being created in God’s image means more than just sharing this or that characteristic in common with God. It serves as a reminder that God intends to accomplish his work through us. Although God has supreme authority over everything, he delegated a certain amount of authority to us (Gen. 1:26).
That doesn’t mean we get to do whatever we want. God expects us to act on his behalf. That’s why he created us in his image. His goal wasn’t simply to make us look like him. He wanted us to be like him so we would use our authority the way he would. The image of God thus serves as a description of both our nature (what we are supposed to be like) and our mission (what we are supposed to do). God gave us attributes that reflected his own so we would do what he would do in this world.
Have you ever considered the fact that God wants you to act as his representative on earth? How does that impact the different areas of your life (e.g. family, work, church)?
As you go about your day today, list one way you could better represent God in each of the above areas of your life.
[i] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Doctrine, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House (1994), 443.
[ii] John H. Walton, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis, Grand Rapids: Zondervan (2001), 130.