“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26
“Let us make man in our image.” That is a powerful statement. Theologians call it the Imago Dei, and it has caused an amazing volume of study and thought regarding exactly what being created in God’s image actually means. For our purposes at the BSU it means that humanity, every man, woman and unborn child, is unique in creation, holding a special place of Common Ground above all else in the universe. But the implications of that are staggering. Because the rules apply to everyone and when we look at people in that light, it changes a few things.
First, it changes the way we see ourselves. Perhaps you’ve been put down or told you were worthless by a parent or family member. Maybe bullied at school by peers. Maybe you just fell for the lies of popular media about value based on physical appearance or aptitude for sports or science or anything else for that matter. The Imago Dei has a message for you: you are special. God looks at people and sees things we don’t. He looks through people and sees their heart. He looks at you and sees a reflection of Himself. That’s beautiful.
Second, it changes the way we look at social justice issues. Whether its bringing clean water to Africa, fair trade coffee or ending sexual slavery, there are a ton of social justice issues that need our attention, and its really hard to blow them off when you look at people and see them as carriers of the image of God. In America right now, racial tensions and immigration are great examples of how we need to do a better job of recognizing the value of everyone. Jesus demonstrated this on the cross, where he took the time to reach out to a thief and made arrangements for his mother to be cared for.
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27
Third, the Imago Dei changes our motive for evangelism. Is there a higher purpose in life than helping remove the tarnish from the image of God in others? When Jesus looked at people, he saw distress and weariness. He saw them as “sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:35-35) Can you see them the way Jesus does? Its hip in America right now to give to and promote pet charities, but honestly, aren’t those created in His image worth more? The Imago Dei argues that they are.
Fourth, when we see people as being created in the image of God it changes the way we view issues like abortion, capital punishment and euthanasia. We are less inclined to destroy human life when we understand that no matter how young, malformed, old, defiled, unstable or villainous a person might be, what they represent is something greater. Even if they themselves disagree. We have ALL marred the image, so we must exercise caution when putting ourselves into a position of lethal judgment over others.
“A person’s a person, no matter how small” Dr. Seuss
“For you formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13