4th February 2024
I want to think today about what it means to be made in the image of God.
Some children are said to be the spitting image of their parents.
Our grandson Zachary, is the image of Nick, his dad.
And there are similarities between me and Tom.
Helen says we have the same gait when we walk.
And there are similarities between Nick and his dad.
When we were fitted for suits for Rachel and Nick’s wedding, Tom and I were the same size as each other, chest, waist and height; tall and slimish, and Nick and his dad were the same size as each other; chest, waist and height; not tall and not slimish!
But Tom and I are not the same and Nick and his dad are not the same.
Our granddaughters Chloe and Naomi are identical twins
but they are not the same temperamentally or even physically.
Paul said in our first reading,
The Son (that is Jesus) is the image of the invisible God
and in Genesis it says this,
God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them
So I was wondering, what it means by image.
Does it mean a mirror image? Or a photo?
Or is it something different?
I think there is more to being created in someone’s image than physical appearance.
So, what does it mean to say that Jesus is the image of God,
and what does it mean to be made in the image of God?
For Jesus to be the image of the invisible God it has to be about more than being a mirror image, for Jesus said God is Spirit. And Jesus was a man
So maybe it’s less about appearance
And more about nature, character and values.
About representing, manifesting and revealing God.
We believe that Jesus is the image of the invisible God
In other words, if you want to understand God, start with Jesus
· Look at the nature of Jesus
Compassion, humility, mercy and grace
· Look at the teachings of Jesus
Love, service, forgiveness and justice
· Look at the life, death and resurrection of Jesus
Examine the evidence, be scientific,
· And don’t try to understand God by looking at the world
· Understand the world by looking at Jesus
And then in Genesis it says we are created in the image of God.
How does that work?
Again, it can’t be physical, not least because Genesis says,
God created mankind in his own image…male and female he created them.
It takes both men and women to express the image of God.
So again I think it is about character, nature and values,
about being moral, rational, spiritual…
It’s about being relational.
God, as Trinity, is relational, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in loving relationship.
And we find our true selves, we flourish, in relationships of love with others and with God.
God is love, and those who live in love live in God.
Being made in the image of God is also about being creative because God is creative and about caring for God's world.
World is full of creativity: art, science, engineering, sport, business
And it’s about being fruitful and multiplying; procreating
We represent God on earth, not only to care for his world, but to share his love and reveal his glory.
Being made in the image of God is about being human.
Our true humanness is seen in Jesus, the only true human being. Compared to him, we are more like human becomings than human beings, because relationship with God is a journey.
Paul says, Now we see but a poor reflection, as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face
What we see in ourselves and in each other is still only a poor reflection, marred by sin, but being transformed dailyby love and forgiveness and by God’s Holy Spirit.
We are all made in the image of God, human beings everywhere.
And, if that is true, shouldn’t it shape how we relate to each other and how we relate to ourselves?
Whether we are male or female, we’re made in the image of God
Whether we are gay or heterosexual, we’re made in the image of God
Whether we’re black or white, or something in between
Whether young or old, we’re made in the image of God
Whether we are able bodied or disabled, we’re made in the image of God
· Even though God isn’t disabled
Whether healthy or living with sickness, we’re made in the image of God
· Even though God is not sick
Whether of sound mind or living with dementia
· You get the picture!
Whether law-abiding or criminal we’re made in the image of God
Whether peace-loving or terrorist we’re made in the image of God
We are all made in the image of God and all have something of God within us.
Yes, we are marred by sin, but we are still made in God's image and loved by him.
So, when we are relating to others, let us look for the image of God within them and let us rejoice in the good that we see, and nurture it.
And let us do that, not just with the people we get on with, but let us do it with the people that we find difficult, and those who are different to us, because they too are made in the image of God.
And what about ourselves?
Do you believe that you are made in the image of God?
If self-image is a problem, maybe we should start with the truth that we are made in the image of God.
There is something of the nature and character of God in you.
A nature that is expressed in compassion, humility and justice.
A nature that is revealed in love and service and forgiveness.
A nature that is moral, rational, spiritual, creative and relational.
A nature that is marred by sin but forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus, transformed by the love of God, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
For, not only are we created in the image of God, when we become a Christian, God dwells in us through his Holy Spirit, we are temples of the Living God to reveal his glory to the world.
God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." (27) So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
(28) God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
(29) Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. (30) And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground, everything that has the breath of life in it, I give every green plant for food." And it was so.
(31) God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
(16) For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
(17) He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (18) And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (19) For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, (20) and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.