Thursday, January 08, 2015


Detail from Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam"
Detail from Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam"

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 1:20-2:4

TO CHEW ON: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them." Genesis 1:27

As we read this passage, particularly the part about our (man's) creation, the question that comes to mind is, what does it mean to be created in the image of God?

I certainly struggled with how to answer that when I wrote my children's devotions (Bible Drive-Thru). Eventually I came up with this list:

The image of God in people sets them apart form the rest of creation in that they have creativity, are self-conscious, have personality, can think about more than what they see, hear, and feel (think abstractly), have soul and spirit as well as body, can make decisions and choices that lead to feelings.

Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology simplifies—and complicates—the concept when he says:

"When God says, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness' (Genesis 1:26), the meaning is that God plans to make a creature similar to Himself. Both the Hebrew words for 'image' (tselem) and the Hebrew word for 'likeness' (demut) refer to something that is similar but not identical to the thing it represents or is an 'image' of. The word 'image' can also be used of something that represents something else" Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 442,3.

He goes on to explain how this definition steers us away from defining the image of God in man in too narrow terms, list-like, as I have done, for example "… because no such list could do justice to the subject. … In fact as we read the rest of scripture, we realize that a full understanding of man's likeness to God would  require a full knowledge of who God is in his being and in his actions and a full understanding of who man is and what he does" - Op. Cit., p. 443,4.

(Then Grudem does go on to give list of specific examples of what the image of God means.)

Practically, the fact that we humans are created in God's image should fill us with gratitude and respect—self-respect and respect for other humans. Grudem again:

"Every single human being, no matter how much the image of God is marred by sin, or illness, or weakness, or age, or any other disability, still has the status of being in God's image and therefore must be treated with the dignity and respect that is due to God's image-bearer" - Op. Cit., p. 450.

He lists those that might typically need to be kept in mind here—people of every race, the elderly, the seriously ill, the mentally retarded, children yet unborn and concludes:

"If we ever deny our unique status in creation as God's only image-bearers, we will soon begin to depreciate the value of human life, will tend to see humans as merely a higher form of animal, and will begin to treat others as such. We will also lose much of our sense of meaning in life" - Ibid.

Developments in current Canadian thought and practice—e.g. abortion on demand, the animal rights movement, and the push to legalize doctor-assisted suicide—illustrate that we are well down that road of human deprecation.

Dear God, thank You for how I am made. Help me to get to know You and thus myself. Help me to view all fellow humans as Your image-bearers and to treat them as such. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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