As any young, literal child would, I once thought that being made in God’s image meant that we looked like God—physically. After all, in all the pictures we ever saw of Jesus, he looked like us, and Jesus was God.
Of course, now I know that that is not what the verse means. What it means is covered in theological theses and books and is probably more than I will ever understand and way more than a short blog could ever cover. But a weekend away with some friends did enlighten me on a few ways we have been made in God’s image.
First, we were made for relationship. Except for when Jesus went to the cross for our sins, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit had always been in relationship. Therefore, we too are made for relationship—at whatever level, for whatever length of time. Some of us crave many hours of people time; others get by with just a couple, but regardless, we need each other. The mental health issues that have risen in all age groups because of the isolation over the past couple of years has only reinforced this. The time we spend with each other is important.
Second, we were made for quiet. One of the most appealing parts of this getaway was that we were in the mountains and it was quiet. Not completely. The wind rustled through the trees. The birds were singing. But for some of the time it was void of people created noise. In Psalm 23, the “restoring” of the soul, comes after the lying in green pastures and being beside still waters. We need quiet. Only in the quiet can we hear the voice of God. On the seventh day, God rested from His work. He created the sabbath “for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27. He created rest and quiet, and we crave it.
Third, we love nature. Now I know some might say “no way. I don’t do dirt.” But I don’t mean backpacking the Pacific Coast Trail. Before He ever created man, God created the natural world for him: the trees and plants, the oceans, the rivers, the animals. God loves nature. What we see today is only a shadow of the perfect world at Creation. And we, in whatever way we can and wherever we can, have been recreating that natural world: Beautiful parks in large cities. Backyard gardens. Balcony nurseries. We love our pets and protect our wildlife. If we don’t have a green thumb, we have pictures that provide that natural beauty for us.
Fourth, we are creative. From works of art to innovative technology to home decorating to a new putting grip, we love to be unique and solve problems. God is the ultimate Creator, but he made each of us little creators. If we have too much idle time on our hands, we start thinking of projects we can do.
“In His image” is so much more than just these four characteristics. But I think if we realize that we are like God in these four ways, then we will realize that being created in His image is an awesome and awe-inspiring notion, and that once we experience salvation, then we can appreciate the process of sanctification where we reflect more and more of God’s characteristics, and grow closer to being a perfect reflection—a perfect image— of God.