Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:26-28).
The Bible teaches that man is created in God’s image. Theologians have puzzled long and hard over what this means. But we can affirm at least two important things from these important verses in Genesis:
1. Being in God’s image means we resemble God
- We resemble God in our morality – we have an inner sense of right and wrong and accountability before God for our actions.
- We resemble God spiritually – we are not just flesh machines, but we have souls that allow us to relate to God on a spiritual level.
- We resemble God mentally – we can think logically, communicate in abstract language, and relate deep feelings with others.
- We resemble God relationally – we are created male and female, equal though different, and the complimentary, relational chemistry between the sexes somehow reflects the eternal “chemistry” between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
2. Being in God’s image means we have dominion over creation
- We have the important job of helping to run and rule creation.
- We ought not take advantage of creation, but rather exercise stewardship over the resources and opportunities that creation provides.
- We ought not detest population growth but recognize that sin and poor stewardship leads to problems – don’t blame babies.
As we come to reflect and embrace what it means to be made in God’s image, this will have at least three life-enriching effects:
We will embrace lives of purpose and value
Since we resemble God that means we have value as individuals and since we have dominion over creation that means what we do has purpose. Thus, we will enjoy lives of creativity, productivity, and industry as a way of bringing glory to God as he rejoices over us and our work. God’s happiness and our happiness are not at odds.
We will take care of our bodies (God’s bodies), our time (God’s time), and our creation (God’s creation)
Since we resemble God and “have dominion” we must accept the role of manager – we are responsible for how we use our bodies – exercise, sleep, and nutrition. We are also responsible for how we use God’s creation and its resources, avoiding that which would destroy human flourishing.
We will take care of people better
Since we resemble God we need to take care of people, and value them with equality, and enjoy relationship with them regardless of racial differences, differences in appearance, differences in sex/gender, differences in ability or disability, and differences in age (including the elderly and those young ones not yet born, who still possess God’s image).
Thanks to Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 439-51.
Top image from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/602173. Used with permission.