Yesterday morning at our church’s men’s prayer time, we had an excellent discussion of Genesis 1:27, one of the foundational passages of the Bible on the dignity and status of all persons.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
We discussed the powerful doctrines and meaning of this passage for our lives as Christian men, including, not necessarily in this order.
1. God is Creator.
The text says 3 times that God created (Hebrew, bara, is used of God’s direct, personal, creative act). Every person is personally created, hand-crafted by God, and belong to Him. They are his artwork, his masterpiece. When we hurt or violate another person, we touch and vandalize what is Gods.
2. Mankind (all people) are created in God’s image.
All people – regardless of race, sex, age, culture, ethnicity, politics, ideology, religion, moral record, etc. – have a special status and responsibility to reflect and represent God. No other creature in creation is made in God’s image.
3. The status of being an image bearer, of personhood, is one of immense dignity and is irrevocable.
God confers personhood. It is his gift. From conception to one’s last breath this status remains. No matter if one is strong or has special needs, no matter what one has done right or wrong, no matter what!, NO ONE is able to revoke or erase this status that God confers.
4. Men and women are equally image bearers, with equal status, dignity, authority and responsibility to reflect and represent God.
God differentiates us biologically. He makes us man or woman. Both are equally image bearers, and have equal status, answering to God, not to the other. Both are necessary to showcase God’s immense and infinite beauty. We need each other to see the full glory of God.
5. From this it follows that all people, of every race, tribe, nation, are equally image bearers.
All people. Period. Yes the fall has bent and broken that image in each person. Yes, sin has marred and polluted what each of us should be. Nevertheless, every person shares the same status before God. Each are worthy of dignity and honor. All of us are sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. We are of one family.
6. When you look at another person you see someone that reflects a splinter of God’s glory.
Not only do we need both men and women to show off the glory of God. We need every one of their sons and daughters to scratch the surface of the infinite majesty of God. Every person is irreplaceable in this task. Every person shows a facet of the beauty of God that you can not see from any other. When we see another person we should be in awe, more than when we visit the Grand Canyon or look out over the Pacific Ocean. No one is rubbish, garbage, dispensable.
7. When we dehumanize, mistreat, hurt, violate, attack in any way a person made in God’s image, we are actually attacking, violating, hurting, mistreating their Creator.
When someone hurts your child, the child who is “in your image” they hurt you. They attack you. Likewise, when we hurt another person we also attack and hurt the one in whose image they are made: God. That is why when Jesus came into the world he forgave people their sins as if he had been the one sinned against, because he had been.
8. Racism is a sin, a violation of a person made in God’s image.
8. Battling racism starts at home with loving, forgiving, being kind to the people closest to us.
It is very possible to have a “love for humanity” and be “anti-racist” and yet hurt, mistreat, violate, demean, attack the people who are closest to us: our spouse, children, colleagues at work. This is a gross dichotomy of mind and heart. We need to be careful not to see sin at out there, but in us. We need to see how when we mistreat, demean, hurt, etc. people closest to us, our wife, children, family, we are sinning against God, violating those who God created and loves. It is the same root as racism. Start digging that root out. It goes deep into the soil of your heart. If you start addressing racism by repenting of the way you sin against all image bearers, especially the ones who are closest to you, you will begin to see the reality of sin and why you need a Savior.
9. We need to change our self-talk
That we are image bearers should also effect the way we see ourselves and how we talk to ourselves. People say about 40,000 words to themselves throughout the day. How do we talk to ourselves. Do we hold ourselves in contempt? Or do we lift up our heads and see ourselves as hand-crafted by God and bearing the dignity of one made in God’s image?
10. Word Picture
Think of God as the artist. He has painted each one of us in his image and bear his signature, Imago Dei. Each portrait gives a slightly different image of God. Each shows a facet or a splinter of God’s immense glory and beauty. He values each of his works of art. When we vandalize and violate God’s art, like with the sin of racism, we touch what is very precious to God and we actually attack him. He has every right to judge us and condemn and punish us when we do that.
How much would change if we could view every person as a special work of God’s art and treat them with dignity and respect. That doesn’t mean that we have to like what they do, or share their perspectives, but we need to treat them with the utter dignity and respect and honor as one who bears the image of God.
This is what a group of presbyterian men talked about from 6:30-7:30am. And we’re not just talking. We’re trying to live this out in our workplace. Three of us are flying to Indianapolis, IN in September to be part of a project to renovate a home and get a social purpose business of the ground that will empower African Americans through home and business ownership.#presbyterian#imagodei#personhood