Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27 NIV)
To be created in the image of God is a privilege invested in us by God. Being made in the image of God cannot be identified by any one particular attribute of mankind. Several of the attributes often said to be unique to mankind are:
- Our spirituality – the ability to have a relationship with God. God is a spirit (John 4:24) and true worship of God requires us to have a spiritual nature.
- Our morality – the power to choose between right and wrong. This incredible ability given to us is an offshoot of being made in God’s image. The implication is that we are able to discern between right and wrong (Genesis 3)
- Our rationality – we are intellectual beings who can think, create and influence (genesis 1:26-28).
- Our self consciousness – We are individuals with our own personalities and we know it. We are self-aware. Adam certain knew who he was and what he could relate to (Genesis 2:18-23). Of all the things that God created it is only when he saw woman that he exclaimed ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’ (Genesis 2:23)
- Our free will – the freedom to make our own choices as a result of our intellectual ability and self consciousness.
While these characteristics are the out working of our being created in the image of God, the image of God within us is something much more precious and intrinsic. After all, even the devil exhibits most of the attributes mentioned above but that does not mean he is made in God’s image.
While the above attributes might well be an outworking of the image of God they are not exclusive proof of the image of God. For even a person born brain dead and showing none of the above attributes is still made in the image of God.
So what is the unique aspect of mankind that we can identify as God’s image?
Let’s read Genesis 2:7
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (NIV)
The breath of God is what makes you a living being created in God’s image.
Sin however has blurred our real nature. Sin is the condition the world is now in as a result of the broken relationship with God brought about by mankind going against God’s will.
This is why Christ has come to restore our relationship with God. We need to learn how precious we are to God and how precious others are to him also. This is why love and respect for each other is so vital. When you tread on people you tread on the image of God (Gen.9.6).
Never forget – you are made in God’s image.