As you read what’s being said about humanity all around us, it is easy to assume that we are confused. On the one hand we are told that we are the greatest, most sophisticated entity we know, highly evolved and highly intelligent. On the other hand we are told that we are a plague on this planet, a selfish parasite who greedily consumes everything around us.
Which one is true? Both? We haven’t gone deep enough. Both claims are, to some degree, true. But because both claims are being made in a no-god worldview, they are actually too shallow.
The Image of God Created
Genesis 1v26-27 tells us that we are made in the image of God. This immediately gives us intrinsic worth and value. This means we have value simply because we are. Extrinsic value is to have value because of what you do, give or contribute. It means that value is not a part of us by nature, it comes from outside of us. Intrinsic value means that value belongs naturally, or that it is part of our essential make up. Value belongs to us because God made us in His image.
Psalm 8v5 tells us that God crowned humanity with “glory and honour”. We are the crown of God’s creation. As image of God we are relational beings, made to know God, know one another and know ourselves. We are moral beings, made to reflect God’s gracious and holy character through our thoughts, words and deeds. We are stewards, made to rule over creation with love and justice.
The Image of God Broken
When man broke God’s law the moral image of God was shattered in us. We still have worth and value because we are made in His image. We still have God’s moral law written in our hearts (Romans 2v15). However, our sin separates us from relationship with God. We have rejected Him in our lives. We are broken. This brokenness manifests itself in our selfishness, envy, greed, lust and hatred. We weren’t created this way, we became this way through sin, and now each of us are born with this brokenness.
The Image of God Restored
Christ, as God in the flesh, is the perfect human. He is the most human of us there ever was because He reflected God’s image perfectly in every way. When we sin or make mistakes we often say something along the lines of “we are human, we all make mistakes”. However, being human is not to make mistakes and sin, that is to be a broken human. To be fully human is to live as the image of God.
Christ, as the perfect and fullest human surrendered His life for us, the broken ones. He died our death, taking our deserved punishment. He rose again and offers restored humanity to all who will come to Him by faith. He puts the shattered image back together again.
The Image of God Transformed
Here’s the great part. Not only does He restore us back to what we were before sin, He actually makes us better. There is an art form in Japan called Kintsugi (look it up). Essentially, it takes a vase, or bowl, or plate that has been broken and puts it back together again using gold as the adhesive. This means that, not only is the item restored, but it is actually worth more than it ever was.
Those who have come to Christ for restoration have Christ living in them. They are made part of the new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5v17). Christians talk about being "godly" and "Christlike". This simply means to live as restored and transformed humans.
The Image of God Confused
This is what the Bible teaches us about what it means to be human. When we reject God we reject this definition. This leads us to a dangerous and scary place, alone in the universe, trying to understand and define who and what we are.
If we can’t place our identity in the certainty of scripture then we are going to go elsewhere to try and find answers for these deep questions. The problem is, there is nowhere else. There are no other answers. Even if you find an answer, you wouldn’t have any standard by which to judge if it is true or not.
This identity amnesia leads to us humans desperately seeking meaning and identity everywhere else. Some of us think that identity lies at the top of the career ladder. Some of us think it lies on the top of a heap of riches and possessions. Some of us try to find it in human relationships. Some of us think that by adding body parts or removing body parts we will finally discover ourselves. Some get attached to a political or social cause. Some seek the path of pleasure. It all comes up empty.
If we really want to know who we really are, if we really want to discover ourselves, then we must turn to One who made us for the answers.
Article 9 and 10 will focus on the how of having these kind of conversations with people. Article 8 uses the story of the Prodigal Son to illustrate the point we are trying to make in this worldview series.