This week I want to think about something that is really applicable to our everyday life – the imago dei. In Genesis 1:26 we read:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

When we get to this point of creation something is a little different. Up until this point God has just been creating the world; he made the oceans and the land, the sun and moon, the birds and beasts. In all of this he did not say anything about it being made in his image. When we get to man though something is very different about our creation.

So what does it mean to be made in the image of God? Well, as we can see from the verse above we are given charge over all the earth. This sounds a little strange, and maybe even a little like an environmentalist, but we are to take care of the earth. Well what does that mean?

In the beginning it meant naming all the animals and taking care of the garden. That’s actually a pretty nice gig! Free room and board plus all the amazing animals in the world, though the names start getting a little short (fly, dog, cat, etc). Plus you get all the fruit and whatever else was in the garden (except the animals) to eat. All except for that one tree in the middle of the garden.

Another way we are created in the image of God is that we know right from wrong. Isn’t that interesting that the very thing that Satan tempted the woman with brings us closer to the image of God? Of course it was twisted and distorted and the sin actually killed us, but as a result we know not only good, but also evil. That inner sense has been cared throughout the generations and is something that all people have within them.

We are spirit. Remember when God made Adam that he formed him out of the dirt of the ground and then breathed on him and gave him God’s spirit? Just as God is spirit, we also have a spirit. Of course there are lots of additional questions that could be asked and answered, but my understanding is that we are composed of a body and a spirit. Two parts of a whole person.

There are of course other ways in which we are in the image of God, but let’s think about the practical applications of this doctrine.

I know the one that hits me the most is that everyone, no matter who they are, is created in the image of God. This one really helps me when I’m driving; we have a tendency to look at another vehicle and separate it from the person controlling that vehicle. You’ll often here people, myself included, yell out, “Stupid Ford!” It has nothing to do with the brand and everything to do with the way that the person is controlling the vehicle. When we start to see the person behind the wheel we can begin to think about them as a person created in the image of God.

For the men out there, women are created in the image of God too! I know, hard to believe, but it’s true. Guys, we need to not think of women as just objects or things to be used and then discarded. We need to treat women with respect because, just like us, they have been made in the image of God as well.

When we start to view other people as having been made in the image of God we can have more compassion on them, show them more mercy or grace. If we consider that even the homeless beggar on the side of the road has the image of God, maybe we’ll be a little nicer to them when we see them.