God's Image

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  August 13, 2016

            Celebrated as the crowning moment of Creation, God looked upon the earth and called God’s own image into being. “Let us make humanity in our image, according to our likeness.” With these Divine words, humanity was created. Genesis goes on to say, “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them.”
            The concept of being created in God’s image is one that has challenged and confused Christians for generations. God is really funny about his image. In the Ten Commandments God makes it very clear that representing the image of God in any form is nothing short of sinful idolatry. As real as God is, defining that reality by assigning a visual picture of God is woefully inadequate and dangerously sinful.
            As people created in God’s image, it is also easy to envision God as a characterization of our own image. Our culture is vastly familiar with the stylized image of God as an old, white man with a flowing beard and brilliantly white robes. It is an image that could also represent fictional characters such as Gandalf the White in the Lord of the Rings saga or say, perhaps, Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series. For obvious reasons, imagining God in such a characterization is problematic at best and certainly limiting. God is so much more than a Gandalf-like figure.
            Understanding what it means to be created in the image of God means looking beyond the traditional understanding of image as looking like something else. We are truly created in God’s image, but this does not mean that we look like little versions of God running around in Creation. That Divine Image is profoundly larger and vastly more complicated!
            One beautiful way to understand what it means to be created in God’s image is a simple tool that is used every day. It is the key. Whether you use the key to open a door, start a car, or release a pad-lock, the fundamental principle behind the key is the same. It is the image-bearer for the lock.
            The key is uniquely cut in a manner that reflects the image of the lock, yet the key and the lock look nothing alike. Being created in the image of the lock, however, is the only means by which the key can function in the lock. If it is not created in the lock’s image, it simply cannot line up with the hidden image of the tumblers within the lock and, subsequently, can never turn properly to open the lock. The clarity of that image is critical.
            It is also important to recognize that the key, apart from the lock, is essentially worthless. It is created in the lock’s image, but that image-bearing key must be fully inserted into the lock in order for that image to achieve its full function.
            When we think of being created in God’s image, it is not so important that we try to imagine what God looks like and it is essential that we avoid any image of God that limits the portrayal of our Creator to any single race, gender, or nationality. God transcends all those secondary human categorizations.
            As Christians, it is our calling to fully immerse ourselves in God so that the Divine Image implanted in each of us can fulfill its sacred function of interacting within the One in whose image we are created. Faithful prayer, generosity, grace, and love—vital characteristics that are part of the Divine Image—define who we are in God’s creation and how we, as those created in God’s image and called Very Good, are meant to bless God’s creation as God’s divine image-bearers.