(Re)Made In His Image
By John Telgren
I remember the day each one of my sons were born. As I gazed on each of them for the first time, the thing I noticed about each of them is they had my nose. They have some features of both me and my wife. You can tell who the parents of our boys are. This reminds me of a rhetorical question God asked long ago.
"To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him (Isaiah 40:18)?"
In context, this question is a challenge to useless idols and would be gods. There is nothing like God in all creation. Is it any wonder, then, that God does not want us to make idols to honor him? Nothing we can imagine or fashion with our hands is even remotely like God. It is just as Hannah prayed, "There is no one holy like the LORD (1 Sam 2:2)."
However, there is a sense in which there is something "like" God in his creation. All the way back at the beginning, God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… (Gen 1:26)."
So, aside from Jesus who was the "radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature...(Heb 1:3), man is the only one in all creation that bears the image of God. Indeed, we are the "image and glory of God (1 Cor 11:7)."
However, sin corrupts the image of God. It is as if mud and filth were thrown onto a mirror so that it no longer reflects the glory of God. Jesus came to restore the image of God in us by first cleaning away the dirt by dying for our sins, and by transforming us through the Spirit. This is what it means when scripture says we have "renewal" through the Spirit (Titus 3:5). When we are renewed, we have "put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him (Col 3:10)." So, Jesus restores the image of God in us.
What is an image supposed to do? It reminds others of God, just as seeing my sons would remind someone of me. It also brings honor to God. It reveals something of God’s nature. Since God is light (1 John 1:5), we are to reflect his light. Since God is love, we are to love (1 John 4:8). Since God is holy, we are also to be holy (1 Pet 1:16). Since God is righteous, we are to be righteous (Rom 10:3). And the list goes on and on.
Being transformed and changed in this way is what the Bible calls "repentance." The word repent means "to turn." The change is so drastic, that Jesus calls it being "born again (John 3:3). Jesus taught that In order to be saved, one must be born again. If not, they will never enter into God's kingdom and be lost. The Apostle Paul says it like this, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom 12:1-2)."
The change that is to happen to us is so radical, that Paul says we are to be "living sacrifices." This means we sacrifice our own selfish desires and live according to God's desires. It involves a renewing of our mind, changing the way we think. We consider all things from God's perspective according to his word. This is why Paul referes to baptism as being baptism "into death (Rom 6:1-7)." In our baptism, we are dying to ourself and coming up out of the water as a new person.
There is a different message for those who have already been saved. For those who are being transformed into the image of God, Jesus said, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you (John 20:21)." Just as Jesus came bearing the image of God so that we could "see his glory (John 1:14)," and imitate him, Jesus now sends us into the world to bear his image. A "visual sermon" has much more impact than a radio program or tract, and you are that visual sermon as you, transformed by the Spirit, bear the image of the Heavenly in your actions and your speech. The Apostle Paul puts it this way,
"Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:18-20)."