Created In God’s Image
Martin Luther said that if he could understand the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer as Christ did, the rest of his life in Christ would fall into place. Luther’s observation shows that is it easy to use God’s words, but much more difficult to grasp the reality they signify.
One of the most profound (yet often misunderstood or ignored) words from the Bible is that we are all created in the image of God. As C.S. Lewis once pout it “There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal.” Everyone has worth, dignity and significance simply because God’s image is part/ingrained in who we are. This sounds nice, but often people ask the question “Does this really matter? Does being created in the image of God really affect our relationship with God or other people?” The simple answer to that is “Of course it does! It changes everything.”
We are created in God’s image. It is there, even when it is hidden beneath all the dirt, jealousy, brokenness, hatred, unforgiveness etc… God’s image may be tarnished, but it can’t be removed from us. Much of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to bring change that allows this image to come to the forefront- to shine so to speak.
Often, we want to see change in our lives, but the direction we are working towards is different then what God happens to desire for us. Usually, working against God is not a good thing. The problem we encounter is that misconceptions from history, pop culture, education, and even churches and pastors; are ingrained into us. These falsehoods and our belief in them work against us. They confuse us and misdirect our efforts to know God.
One example can be found in the book of Job. People tend to think that God was out to test Job, to see if he was worthy of God’s attention/blessings. If Job stood up to the test, then God would reward him, if not, well then Job simply got what he deserved. This is not true – both in terms of what happens in the story of Job – but also in how God views us. The whole idea of “Does God test us?” can be very confusing. It often leads people to decide that they first must “prove” themselves worthy of God through some faith demonstration before they can get God’s attention. This is very far from the truth. But this false idea is ingrained in the mindset of many Christians and thus undermines their faith.
Instead, reflecting the truth that we have God’s image created into us means that God is not trying to test us, but simply clean us up a bit. To allow the true nature of who we are to come to the surface so that the world can encounter the true reality of God, God’s creation, and the depth and importance of relationships (which are at the core of who God is – God exists in community not isolation). Having a true understanding of what God desires form us (or is attempting to accomplish in us) goes a long way in helping us to get on board with what God is doing instead of working against God. Allowing the image of God to shine in us is what God desires, not seeing us jump through hops in order to prove ourselves.