Then God said, "Let us make man in Our image, in Our likeness....." So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV)
Another version puts it this way:
God spoke: "Let us make human beings in Our image, make them reflecting Our nature...." God created human beings; He created them godlike, reflecting God's nature. He created them male and female. (The Message)
When I read these verses, it got me to thinking. What is the definition of "image"? What exactly does it mean when it says we were made in God's image? So I did a little research, and here is what I found:
First, it means "likeness." In fact, the Merriam-Webster dicitionary not only uses the term "exact likeness," but they also use Genesis 1:27 as their example of how to use it! I love that! So what exactly does "likeness" mean, you ask? Well, it means resemblence or imitation or simply "the state of being like." In other words, out of all that God created, He chose us to resemble or be like Him.
So in what ways were we made like Him? Well, it likely doesn't mean we are like Him physically since God existed before anything physical came into being, and Scripture tells us that God formed man "from the dust of the ground." (Although when God sent His Son, Jesus, to earth, He did choose for Him to be in the form of a man). Most likely, it means that we are like Him in the sense that we are spiritual beings. Genesis 2:7 states that God breathed into man "the breath of life." We are the only creatures that God breathed His breath in to. By the way, want to know one of the definitions for "breath"? SPIRIT! God breathed His very spirit into us! Scripture also reveals that we were made like God in the sense that we were given intelligence, moral consciousness, freedom of choice, and emotions.
Another definition of image is "mirror" or "reflect." So it made me think.....when I look in a mirror or look at my reflection, what is it that I see? The mirror or reflection isn't actually me, it's simply a piece of glass, but rather it gives me an idea (or represents) what I look like. In other words, God created us to be a reflection of Him. He wanted mankind to reflect His very nature.....His love, His holiness, His glory! We weren't made in His image so that we would be equal with Him or all-powerful or all-knowing; we were made in His image so that we would be a visible (or tangible) representation of God to those around us! Our purpose as human beings, the reason we were created, is to have a relationship with God and to bring Him glory! It's that simple.
Of course, Scripture also reveals that humans quickly chose to dishonor and disobey God, thereby, marring His perfect image in us and hurting our relationship. From that point on, history leads to one thing: restoring that image and relationship. And how did God do that? He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross, to take the penalty for our sins, and to rise again to give us power over death! You see, by simply asking God to forgive us and believing that Jesus died in our place and that He rose again giving us victory over sin and death, our relationship is restored and we can once again begin to reflect the nature of God! Of course, we're still human. We're still gonna mess up, but Jesus' blood covers all of our sins, if we simply ask and believe. I don't know about you, but the more I grasp how great God's love for me is, that He would sacrifice His own Son in order to have a relationship with me, the more I want to spend time with Him and glorify Him! And it makes sense that the closer the relationship, the more time we spend with God, the more we'll be like Him and the better our reflection will be!
Just for fun, I also looked up the term "spitting image." It actually comes from "spit and image," for which I found 2 possible origins. First, it could mean that one looks so much like the other that he or she was "spat out of that person's mouth." Second, it could have come from a hasty pronunciation of spirit and image, which suggests that one is like another in both spirit and image. I also love the fact that when we use the term "spitting image," we are almost always referring to a parent/child relationship. Hmmm......God breathed His breath (or Spirit) out of His mouth and into ours......we are God's children.....GOD'S SPITTING IMAGE.....pretty fitting, don't you think?
Seeing as how Valentine's Day is tomorrow, I want to leave you with one last verse, one that I think sums everything up and shows us the greatest love relationship of all:
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 (NIV)