The “Image of God”: No Respecter of Movements


“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness. . .  So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26, 27)

by Rob Lundberg

I think it is safe to say that our culture is in chaos right.  This chaos has been sparked by a chain of violence that has sparked a level vitriol that our nation has not seen. Chaos has been the product of a chain of acts of violence and movements feeding off of those acts, multiplied by their own particular platforms. As I woke up this morning, it was a burden to write something.  And the content of this post will be the essentially the fruit of what was on my mind, about how every person is created in the image of God and what they really means.  So I guess, for this post, I am “striking when the iron is hot.” 

Again, I have been wanting to write something on this for some time,  and the thoughts which came to me are focused on the image of God and what that means. You can see the title, “The Image of God: No Respecter of Movements.”  But what does that mean?  

What I would like to do is answer this question by first sharing what the term “image of God” (Imago Dei) means from the Christian perspective.[1] From there I will point out that the image of God is not a respecter of persons in the matter of gender and ethnicity.
Lastly,  I want to conclude with what I think is a viable response as to how we, as Bible believing Christians, need to address these issues in our culture.

Because of being in the quarantine mode during this “pandemic” it has given many of us an opportunity to reflect on the issues we are seeing wreaking havoc in our culture.  I think it is safe to say that we are possibly on the verge of another ideological tectonic shift (since 9/11) as a result of the tragedies, losses of life, and the reactions conducted by various movements in our culture.

What is the image of God?

We read in Genesis 1:26, 27 and hear preachers preach that “man is created in the image and likeness of God.”  But what does this mean?  Does this speak to our physical attributes or is there something more to that that allows us to relate to God and to each other?[2]

The subject of the image of God is one that is discussed and debated by philosophers and theologians within all the different monotheistic worldviews. For our purposes here, I am going to address this solely from an historical Christian perspective.  Allow me to start with giving two reference points.  

First, the image of God marks us out from all other living creatures, which by implication are not made in the Image of God. While there is a soulish-ness that can be found in animals, the nature of that soulish-ness is not equally on par with the soul-ish nature of man.[3]  Man is viewed by God as the chiefest of His creation and has been given dominion over the animal kingdom.  

The second point of reference is of course God Himself, so we can also understand the meaning of being made in his image when we explore what He has revealed of Himself – in nature, in Scripture and most especially in Christ.

So the image of God in man distinguishes us from all other animals on the one hand and shows our family resemblance to our heavenly Father on the other.

I take the words ‘image’ and ‘likeness’ to amount to the same thing. Without being exhaustive to what I want to share on this point, there are attributes that reflect the nature of God on a transcendent level and us as His creation on the semi-transcendent level. Those thematic attributes are: the ability to create, having intelligence, having the appreciation for beauty, being a rational being, having emotions, having the ability to love, having the ability to be moral, having the ability to be relational, being a spiritual being etc.  None of these themes are found in animals on the level of fortitude as they are in the chiefest of God ‘s creation, man. 

All these themes challenge our humanity and ask us if we are really alive? Are we creative, thinking, artistic, moral, relational beings, who hunger after God? Are we growing on all fronts? Are we well-balanced individuals, giving proper attention to each area? I think you get the picture and I am sure there is more that I could be missing.

But these attributes which make up the image of God are in-discriminatory. That is they do not speak to the areas of ethnicity (race) or gender. Let me explain what I mean by this.

The image of God is not a respecter of persons.

As I mentioned earlier, there could be so much said in depth about this vast subject on the image of God, so I want to keep my focus streamlined. As we look at those attributes again, notice with me that they are without discrimination to ethnicity or gender.  Let me quickly highlight them here.

First the image of God is not discriminatory to gender.  God created man and woman in His image and likeness. Though the woman is considered the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:7), she is not any lesser image-wise than the man when it comes to being in God’s image.

Second the image of God is not discriminatory to ethnicity or race.  The ethnicities did not emerge until after the fall of man (Genesis 11:1-9), and man was dispersed by God to be fruitful and multiply.

So if the elements found within the image of God do not discriminate race or gender, what are we to make of the racial strife, the critical race theory, the gender confusion and dysphoria in our culture? What are we to think of all the rallying and protesting that is producing violence and strife?

Let me see if I can give a response to this

A Response to the New Mission Field

With what we are seeing in protests, demonstrations, and pontifications by the media, you and I have our work cut out for us.[4] The church has its work cut out for her and is in need to re-evaluate its approach to reaching the culture.  Let me share some thoughts.

Listening to the hurt before sharing a remedy

With the history of people that have been killed, whether justly or unjustly, we are seeing a huge segment of our culture identifying with all kinds of ideologies that port with them different views on economic and political theory.  How do we address and minister in this kind of culture?  Let me provide some thoughts.

    1. We need to understand as ministers of the gospel that this is a new mission field that cannot ignore the task of apologetics with our evangelism.  With this hurt and anger quoting chapter and verse will only be seen as patriarchal suppression, and approaches like the  “take it or leave it” or “God’s word will not return void” showing our culture a church that is arrogant and uncaring.
    2. We need to see those that you and I encounter and engage, day in and day out, as people who are created in the image and likeness of God. We need to understand that with every objection or question, there is a person behind that question or objection. You can try and get the person to the foot of the cross all you want, but their objections still linger, and some of those objections are too strong for them to get through before placing their trust in Christ with their lives.
    3. Understand that what we are seeing in all these protests are those who have a displaced view of their identity and meaning.  What we are are seeing is a demonstration of people, in movements seeking a following, who are  groping for their identity and meaning in life. It does not matter to them if their anger is directly or indirectly or pseudo-directly justified.

Let’s talk about “justice”as a way to get to the gospel

Since I just mentioned this word justified, there seems to be within the church and outside the church this pursuit for social justice.  It appears that the new word and new pursuit is rooted and grounded in this word word “justice.”  Those in the church and outside the church put adjectives to it like “social justice,” “racial justice,” “____ justice” etc.

Everybody today is looking for justice. But in our pluralized relativistic society that we live in, the word “justice” can take on different meanings in different contexts.  We need not be afraid to use this as our starting point, should the conversation start there.

This word justice is a very biblical word and it provides us with a wonderful opportunity to converse with the person in hopes to transfer the conversation to the truth of the gospel.[5].

The real justice that you and I deserve is the wrath of God. True justice is only found when we address the evil that is in us, and find the One who is both Just and Justifier to forgive us.  Once we have done this, then and only then we can point to remedy with results to the ills done in the present or the past.  By pointing to this real justice found in Christ, the reality does not change because it is only found in His death and resurrection being made alive in us (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 5:1).

People are looking for their identity, meaning and purpose in all the wrong places.  Our identity, meaning and purpose are found only in Christ through the means of a vital, personal relationship with God.

As I said at the onset that these were thoughts that I woke up with.  I pray that they have given you some food for thought and maybe some encouragement during these interesting days.

Please let me know your thoughts on this post by sending me an email.  I would love to hear from you, and possibly engage in dialogue, no matter if you agree or disagree.  You can email your thoughts to realissueapologetics@yahoo.com
____________

Notes

[1] James Sire defines a worldview in his book, The Universe Next Door in the following manner:  “A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundations on which we live and more and have our being.”  There are four questions that must be answered cohesively to help you determine whether or not your worldview is cohesive.  Those questions are framed around origin (where do I come from?), meaning (why am I here, and what is the purpose of my existence?), morality (where do right and wrong come from, and how do we frame our ethics?, and destiny (what happens after this life is over?)

[2] Cults like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have a different view of what this term means. They believe that God was once a man, and through obedience, became a god, and in the afterlife believes that God (Adam/Elohim) has body of flesh and bones like you and I do.

[3] The animal kingdom has no moral code that equals the moral Law of God.  Animals know instinctually that they have “messed on the floor” but they do not know that it is wrong until there is reinforcement given by their handler that the animal should not do that again, and go outside. Simply stated there is no moral accountability or culpability within the animal kingdom, unlike that which is found (placed) in man, because of the image of God.

[4] The rally cries of our culture are are all centered on race, gender fluidity, gender and sexual dysphoria, political economic theory, critical theory, critical race theory, intersectionality, masculine frailty. None of these have anything in common to the attributes we have discussed about the image of God (imago Dei).  You and I need to realize that we need adapt our approach to sharing an unchanging gospel.

[5] Let me suggest that you take ownership of your scripture memory and in conversation, do not reference book, chapter and verse.  Just quote the passage. Remember that the chapter numbers and verses were not present until the 1500’s in our Bibles.


cropped-robgoodgravatar.jpgRob is a blogger, writer and public speaker on a mission to equip the believer to think and articulate what they believe and to communicate the message of the gospel to a confused culture in a chaotic, “postmodern world.”

He is available to come and speak to your church, college group, or at your conference or workshop.
If you would like to check out his speaker profile click here.
Looking for a specific topic to equip your church, here are some ideas click here.
If you would like to know the places that I have spoken click here.
Check out what people who have engaged this ministry have to say click here.
To book Rob to speak to your group or your church, contact him by sending an email.


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