For the last few weeks, we’ve wrestled with exactly what this challenging and important passage means. And today I’d like to wrap things up.
But this is just the first part of the journey. It’s one thing to understand what it means to be made in the image of God, but it’s something else entirely to wrestle with whether it really matters. That’s where we’re headed next.
But, before we get there, let’s pull everything together.
The Journey So Far
In our journey toward understanding the image of God, I’ve argued that the image is basically about “representation.” In other words, human beings represent God because (for some reason) he’s decided to manifest his glorious presence in creation through us. And, as his representatives, he has given us the responsibility of “ruling” in his place. I have to admit that I still think this was an odd decision given what a mess we’ve made of things, but I’m sure God has his reasons.
If God just wanted to manifest his presence in creation, though, he could probably have done that through a chihuahua. I know that’s hard to image, but he’s God. I’m sure he could do it somehow. God wanted more. He wanted to manifest his personal presence through his people. So it’s only when you have human community at the end of Genesis 2 that God’s plan is fully in place.
But we still need one more piece of the puzzle. So, in my last post, I argued that you really haven’t understood the imago until you realize that the image of God is a story, a story that involves God faithfully manifesting his glorious presence through his people despite their constant unfaithfulness, a story that includes Israel and the Church, and story that will continue forever.
And with that, I think we have enough to understand the image, kind of. Because the image is a story that has no ending, it’s something that will continue to unfold, never reaching the kind of “perfection” that implies the cessation of growth. God will continue manifesting his glorious presence through us, and because that presence is infinite and inexhaustible, so is the image. Far from being static and boring, our eternal destiny will be amazing. But then, our present destiny is already pretty incredible. Image bearers. Who would’ve thought?
But Does It Matter?
That’s the question we haven’t asked yet. And it’s one that often gets neglected when people discuss the imago. Does the image of God really matter for how we live and minister today?
I sure hope so. Otherwise, we’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks wrestling with something that doesn’t really matter. I don’t know about you, but I have better things to do with my time.
The image of God isn’t just a theological category that you wrestle with intellectually and then place in your desk drawer when you’re done. (As though you should do this with any theological concept.) No, it’s supposed to shape the way we live.
That’s where were going next with this series. If the image of God is about God manifesting his glorious presence in creation through his people, what real difference does this make? Stay tuned.