Last week, I began reading Jen Wilkin’s latest book “In His Image.” As I read through her theologically rich chapters, it caused me to think about just what it means to be created in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 tells us that in the beginning, “God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them.” And that is not only true of Adam and Eve but of every human being thereafter (Psalm 139:13-16).
Being made “in His image” is a popular phrase among members of the church, but it can be a bit confusing. What exactly does it mean to be made in His image? Join me for a discussion about that below.
BEARING HIS IMAGE
Of course we are not God, but we are indeed made in the image of God. According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, God created mankind in “knowledge, righteousness, and holiness…” Knowledge, righteousness, and holiness are attributes of God, and they were uniquely extended to human beings at Creation.
Simply put, being made in the image of God is what sets human beings apart from the rest of creation. It is what makes us relational, intellectual, and creative when other creatures are not.
THAT IMAGE TAINTED
Since the Fall, God’s image in us has been tainted. Our ability to perfectly reflect His character has been impeded. That has been our condition since Genesis 3.
There are some who say that at the fall, we lost the image of God. Personally, I don’t believe that that’s what Scripture teaches or agree with that line of thinking (James 3:9). I don’t believe that we lost the image of God, but I do believe that His image in us was tainted at the fall. That is not at all to say that God’s character was marred by our sin. He was and is and ever shall be the epitome of purity and holiness, but our ability to reflect that purity and holiness was wounded when sin first entered the world.
To aid me in getting this point across, I’ll borrow an example from Jen Wilkin. In her book, she talked about a beautiful ceramic vase that she liked to display flowers in. One day, as her young children roughhoused in the living room, the vase fell to the floor and broke. Saddened, she picked up the pieces and put them back together with superglue. She wrote that while she still likes her fixed-up vase, it no longer holds water as it was intended to. In a way, this is what happened to us at the fall. Our perfect ability to reflect some of God’s attributes shattered, and even though those of us in Christ have been “put back together” by grace, we don’t reflect God’s attributes as clearly as we were intended.
Jen Wilkin’s restored vase cannot be empowered to hold water better. It was broken, and then it was fixed, and for that vase, that’s as good as it’s going to get. However, this is where the analogy breaks down. We were broken by sin, restored by grace, and are being empowered by the Holy Spirit to better reflect the image of God.
RESTORING HIS IMAGE
The restoration of the image of God in His people is commonly known as sanctification, the process of becoming more like God. In Jen Wilkin’s book, she discusses ten communicable attributes of God which we, as Christians, should be striving to reflect. Before I list those attributes, let’s distinguish the communicable attributes of God from the incommunicable ones. Communicable attributes of God are ones that we too can possess, whereas incommunicable attributes are ones that belong to God alone. Eternality, omniscience, omnipotence, and immutability are some examples of the incommunicable attributes of God.
The ten communicable attributes that Jen Wilkin focuses on in “In His Image” are holiness, love, goodness, justice, mercy, grace, faithfulness, patience, truthfulness, and wisdom.
We are to be people who clearly reflect those attributes. Join me in striving for increased holiness, love, goodness, justice, mercy, grace, faithfulness, patience, truthfulness, and wisdom. Comment below and let me know ways in which you endeavor to grow in those things.