Imago Dei

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after 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 1:26a, 27

What in theological terms is called the Imago Dei, is the truth proclaimed in Scripture that humans beings are created by God in His own image. The rejection of this truth has led to terrible transgressions against people throughout history. Even transgressions nearer to our current time, such as:

  • Slavery in America
  • The Jewish Holocaust in Nazi Germany
  • Abortion: The termination of life in the womb
  • Abuse of the more vulnerable by those in power
  • Inequitable rights for some based on race, gender, or class
  • The denial of dignity in end of life care with the elderly and those with terminal illnesses
  • Objectifying and using others (Two quick examples of this are lust and greed, both instrumentalize others for self-gratification.)

Unfortunately, we could easily compile a much longer list. Yet, at the same time, that is exactly the point. Rejecting or even ignoring (same thing?) this truth leads to all kinds of ugly sin and destruction against others. Conversely, acknowledging this truth and seeing the inherent dignity in others brings God glory and good to our neighbors.

Writer, Hannah Anderson, has said:

Imago dei means that your life is sacred because He (God) has stamped His identity onto yours. (Made for More, pg. 33)

Listen to how theologian, Anthony Hoekema explained this truth:

When one looks at a human being, one ought to see in him or her a certain reflection of God…To be sure, other creatures, and even the heavens, declare the glory of God, but only in man does God become visible. Reformed theologians speak of God’s general revelation, in which he reveals his presence, power, and divinity through the works of his hands. But in the creation of man God revealed himself in a unique way, by making someone who was a kind of mirror image of himself. No higher honor could have been given to man than the privilege of being an image of the God who made him. (Created in God’s Image, pg. 67)

“No higher honor” indeed! As we saw this past Sunday in Psalm 8, God has crowned human beings with “glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5). All people possess inherent dignity because all people are created in God’s image. Early Church Father, Irenaeus said:

The glory of God is a living human being.

Let’s ask the Lord to change the way we view others because Irenaeus is right, the person you are tempted to look on with contempt is in fact, “the glory of God.”

About Pastor Matt

Matt Baker is the Pastor of Redeemer Fellowship Church.
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