Man, the Imago Dei (Part 1)

Reflection: Genesis 1-2; Colossians 3:10; Revelation 21-22

The Bible begins with God, and immediately proceeds into an exhilarating creation story, laying the foundation for all that follows. Then irrevocably, God makes man, breaking the pattern that He has set by creating living things according to their kinds (Gen 1: 21–25, 2:20), for man is not a particular species within a given genus of living creatures. He was made according to God’s “kind,” in imago Dei, and like God, is a personal being too.

What does being made in God’s ‘likeness’ mean? The expression emphasized the dignity and worth of all human beings as it designates them as representatives of the Creator of the universe. Furthermore, being the crown of creation, man is assigned with a measure of sovereignty over all the earth (verse 28, Ps 8: 5-8). He is to follow the example of God in his stewardship of the earth; what God initiates, man is to sustain and cultivate (Gen 2:4-25). Nowhere was tyranny and exploitation in view within God’s economy (Ps 5:5-6).

However, the catastrophic Fall defaced man’s imago Dei, but thankfully, a semblance of that image remains sufficiently to sustain the sanctity of human life. Man’s imago Dei is fundamental to God in as much as taking an innocent human life is tantamount to an attack on His image, and is punishable by death; even a beast would not be spared (Gen 9:5-6, Ex 21:28-32). Man, as the image-bearer of God, is to be a giver of life, not a taker of innocent life.

How does being an image-bearer of God affect our relationships? Despite the Eden episode, the uniqueness of man, as distinct from all other living creatures, makes us capable of obedience and worship of our own free will in glorifying our Maker. He renews us in Christ in order that our dealings with others are on a righteous footing (Col 3:9-11, Matt 5:16). As a transformed being, the totality of human ethics in relationship flows out of our imago Dei. Just to delineate a few principal parallels; we are never to curse another who is made in His likeness (James 3:9). Husbands must love their wives as Christ loved His church (Eph 5:25-27). Fathers must discipline and instruct their children as the Lord does with those whom He loves (Eph 6:4). A mother’s comforting love is equated to the comforting love of God (Isa 66:13). Earthly masters should mirror the justice and fairness found in his heavenly Master (Eph 6:9). And with the advent of a new heaven and a new earth, having truly become His ‘kind’ of people, we shall live in God’s presence forever (Rev 21:3-4).

We ARE God’s redeemed image-bearers to our world.