What does it mean to be made in the image of God? The creation account in the beginning of Genesis clearly tells us that humans are unique from the animals because we are made in the image of God. It’s an interesting phrase, isn’t it? But what does it mean?
An image is like a reflection. You see an image of yourself when you look into the mirror every morning. The mirror reflects who you are. Those that look into the mirror see you. God (who is spirit) made us specifically to reflect him into the physical world. We are mirrors reflecting God.
We have been given the gift of love, reason, and physical attributes needed to demonstrate God’s character in the world. Humans have the unique ability to be creative, ingenuitive, and, as God’s middle management, govern and protect the earth. This is how we reflect God into the world.
But that’s not all. We also have been created to gather up all of the praises of earth: harvests, building projects, relationships, businesses, art, etc. And we reflect that as praise back to God. We reflect God’s image into the earth and reflect the praises of the earth back to God. That’s what it means to be made in the image of God.
Tragically, that image of God has been shattered by sin. Our mirrors still reflect God’s image but in a way that is distorted and twisted. Now, although we see glimpses of God in acts of beauty and love, humanity often uses God’s gifts of reason and creativity to engage in acts of hate, destruction, and evil. We don’t love our neighbor and we pillage the earth.
The image of God must be restored in us. Our Gospel lesson teaches us that the mission of Christ, the perfect image of God, was to restore that image on man and thereby lead man back into relationship with God. As St. Ambrose wrote, “There is here an Adam typology and a Genesis background to this story: as Adam is cast out of paradise into the wilderness, so Christ, the new Adam, goes into the wilderness on our behalf, then to come forth from that temptation to lead us back to paradise.”
As we allow God’s Spirit to work in us this Lent, let us increasingly reflect God’s image into the world and reflect the praises of the world back to God. Through faith in the perfect image of God, Jesus, may he begin to restore his image in our lives. Amen.
Father Kurt is the Pastor of Light of Christ Anglican Church in Georgetown, TX