“God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1 :26-27)
“Just look at that boy! Why, he’s the spittin’ image of Joe!” I’m not sure how the “spittin’” got in there, but we get the picture: the boy is a replica of his father – looks like him, walks like him, talks like him. And so with us. In some mysterious way we were made on the model of God Himself. In a strategic planning session deep in eternity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit agreed, “Let us make man in our image.”
God created us, in some mysterious way, to be like Him. That likeness we call the image of God. But what does His image look like? Theologians debate the meaning of image. Since the Bible doesn’t give a concise definition, we have to draw from various passages of Scripture to find the meaning.
A few scholars suggest that our bodies reflect God’s nature in some mysterious way, but most would leave our bodies off the list. God is spirit and not physical, apart from the incarnation of Jesus. Recently, some Bible scholars have added sexuality – maleness and femaleness – to the characteristics of God. They believe that God combines in His being all the characteristics of both sexes, but most would not include sexuality in the list.
Alexander the Great, Caesar, King Nebuchadnezzar, and Herod the Great all had two things in common-each claimed to be God and hated cats. They grasped for supreme authority, and the cats were the only ones who wouldn’t obey! Would supreme authority and power represent God’s image? Today we are rapidly achieving corporately what some of the ancients futilely tried to achieve as individuals.
With the assistance of computers, we dream of accumulating infinite knowledge. With jets and telecommunications, we think we can be everywhere- omnipresent. But these were not the aspects of God He intended for us to share. Not omnipotence. Not omniscience. Not omnipresence. Of course, we do have high potential for knowing and doing, since we are modeled after God Himself. That’s why so much human achievement in the arts and sciences is truly magnificent, but God’s infinities are forever beyond us. Yet, in one way God designed us to be just like Him.
Scientists tell us that porpoises communicate with signals; but they’ve written no dictionaries yet. Pandas make tools – they break off a stick to dig out the food they want; but they’ve built no automobiles yet. Ants build incredibly complex cities and even keep aphid-cows to milk; but no churches or temples have ever been found in those cities. Monkeys misbehave; but none have been known to blush. When God created a special being in His own likeness, He designed one unlike the animals He had already created – one with a spirit who could communicate, create, know right from wrong, and, above all, love and be loved by God Himself. That is His “image,” the stamp of the Designer. We are indeed a “designer model” – modeled after the Designer Himself. That was the work of the Holy Spirit in His first activity, creating us in God’s image.
Even the greatest among us fall far short of the authority, intelligence, and strength of God. So, does being somewhat more intelligent, stronger, or having greater earthly authority really make a person that much more like God? God made us to be like Him, not in power or authority but in our moral nature. He designed us to be loving, holy, trustworthy, just, good, peaceful, and joyful. We share, to a greater or lesser degree, some of His non-moral attributes, such as the capacity for abstract reasoning. But He designed us to be exactly like Him in His moral nature: “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Lev. 19 :2).
You and I are designed on the model of the Creator. The joy of life comes from glorifying Him. We glorify Him as we more accurately reflect His character. How are you in your modeling? Why not pray and ask God to show you how you can become more like Him in His character?