Like so many other biblical ideas, too often "made in the Image of God” stops at just being conceptual. God created us in his image - yes, we uh... LOOK like him, I guess. But what does that really mean?
In my earlier Christian experience, being saved was mostly just fire insurance, as the joke goes. Beyond that, there was scriptural knowledge to be had - a rider on the original policy, just in case. Oh my God, we better get everything figured out, or else!
And even more, biblical knowledge could come in handy for “pointed discussions” with the unsaved, because winning and being right is important, right? I’m obviously taking this down a path of unreasonable absurdity, but how much do we honestly catch ourselves thinking this way?
I bring this up because I’ve learned it’s so essential that we move beyond “Biblical Concepts for 100, Alex” to really getting to know God our Father deeper. We've heard He is Love. We know He is Love. But have we really embraced relating with him moment by moment?
To me, being created in his image can’t just be an aesthetic ideal on his part (as his “trophy children?”), but an actual birthing -- his offspring complete with shared spiritual DNA, fully intact (but of course a bit flawed). All relationships are a two-way street. Yes we’re made in his image, but I’d suggest God also reflects us in some ways.
God demonstrates this amazing relational bond best in his humble, dust-between-the-toes humanity. Jesus wasn’t only martyred on the cross in a heavenly symbolic gesture, he also assimilated into our earthly system for 33 years, through human infancy, childhood, his teenage years and young adulthood. His actual ministry covered only 9% of his time on earth. Why was the other 91% necessary? GREAT food for thought!
Jesus wasn’t just an idea, an ideal, or a role model. He was a child, teenager, son and brother, a young adult, a carpenter, and a Jewish spiritual apprentice - all before his ministry began. Because of this, we can be sure he cares so very much about the specifics of our lives - our parent/child relationships, our family issues, our personal success and failures, our jobs and careers, and our emotional and spiritual health. He really knows us, and he literally walked miles and miles and miles in our shoes.
Consider this: God CHOSE to first enter the human womb, then he spent 33 years LEARNING, or at least experiencing, everything in our earthly life. Besides the joys, he likely tasted boredom, impatience, worry and anger, and certainly loneliness, temptation, rejection, betrayal, pain and of course the horror and humiliation of torture and death.
He didn’t just, in a symbolic gesture, swoop in like a superhero to conquer the enemy, then make a grand exit so we would be amazed and believe. He mirrored our everyday mundane and painful lives because he and we are connected by royal bloodlines! He’s not a concept, he’s the personal and relational embodiment of true empathy, and a soulmate friend to get to know.
And for my money, God’s long-lived 33 year human life WITH us (Emanuel!) is so much more relatable, believable, and comforting than simply grandiose doctrine.
About the Author
Terry is a man in constant motion to explore new horizons. He has a thirst for new places and faces, and a deep love for the natural world - with a weakness for waterfalls and sunsets. All of this venturing out helps to both ground and inspire him, because it opens him up to people, with their vast, collective array of experiences, outlooks and responses.
He finds all of this fascinating and sees that it has encouraged the growth of something crucial in his Christian development: empathy and compassion toward his brothers and sisters on this planet.