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Bearing the Burden and Beauty

Bearing the Burden and Beauty

Our Call as Image Bearers

Stephanie Delger

Podcast Host

Mom Guilt Podcast

Published On:

Human beings are set apart from all of creation in a few different ways. While God simply spoke all other things into existence, this was not true for human beings. Genesis 2:7 zooms in for the creation of human beings and we read, “the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

In this passage we see God taking special care during Adam’s creation. God formed Adam’s body, God breathed into his lungs, and Adam became a living creature. The Bible tells us why God created humans so differently than the rest of creation.

In Genesis 1:27 we read, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Human beings are unique in this. Nothing else in all of creation was created in God’s image.

Not only are humans created differently than the rest of creation, but Adam, the first man, was given specific instructions from God.  God speaks and tells Adam that his job is to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth, to subdue it, and to have dominion over it.

Essentially, Adam’s job was to look around at what God had created in the Garden of Eden and use it as a blueprint. He was to take this garden and expand it all over the world. He was to physically create followers of God from his own body, who would go out and create more followers of God.

Being made in God’s image means that we are to represent God and to point to Him. Just as God reached into the dirt and created Adam, Adam was to use his hands to create and build. Just as God created Adam and gave Him life, so Adam was to from his own body, create life. As God is our ruler and authority, God grants human beings authority over the earth.

Being made in God’s image also means that we would be on display so others would think about God. Humans were designed to look at each other and be reminded of God. They were to be a physical reminder of who God is and what He has done. Humans were to reflect God to each other and all of creation, meaning that we should live in a way, act in a way, and speak in a way, that calls attention to God our creator.

Our job was and is, to be like a mirror. The job of a mirror is not to draw attention to itself, but to reflect an image. Just like a mirror, our job as human beings is not to call attention to ourselves, but rather to reflect God. When humans look at each other, they should be compelled to worship God. We are an image bearer of God our creator.

Sin’s Distortion of Image Bearers

If we are all created in God’s image, why is this not our normal, everyday experience? We look around at each other, or look at ourselves and our first thought is probably not to fall on our knees in worship of God.

This is not our experience because sin entered the world and when it did, it fractured God’s good design. Like a broken mirror, an image is still reflected, but it’s not completely as is should be. It became distorted. Adam and Eve’s sin muddied God’s reflection in His image bearers.

Their actions impacted all of creation and all human beings after them. What happened in this moment is that Adam and Eve wanted to be like God. Satan tempted Eve with the notion that God didn’t want what was best for her. He placed doubt in her mind, through questions, that God didn’t want Eve to be like Him. Satan convinced Eve that she knew better and should not obey God, but rather should listen to her own desires. Eve was no longer content to just be made in God’s image. She wanted to be God herself. Image bearing wasn’t enough, she wanted to be not the image bearer, but the image itself.

It’s like rather than being a mirror, Eve and Adam decided that they wanted instead to be a self-portrait. They didn’t want to reflect God to the world, they wanted to showcase themselves instead. They stopped trusting that God was good and they started thinking that they should be just like God. Adam and Eve thought that they knew better and that they could do better than God. They exchanged the truth for a lie.  We were never meant to be the image, but rather the image bearer.

Jesus’ Redemption

Adam and Eve and all humans after them are now sinners. God in his mercy, didn’t give up on them or us. God would have been completely just to leave Adam and Eve in their sin, to make them pay for what they had done. God could have annihilated the human race. He would have been completely justified in doing so. But rather than leave them in their sin, God instead promises them a Savior.

While God is cursing Satan who deceived Eve, God promises that an offspring of the woman, will come and defeat him. God says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

God promises that Adam and Eve will not have to live forever, separated from God. God promises that a child, an image bearer, would come from Eve who would defeat Satan. Eve would have never guessed that God would send more than an image bearer, but God himself would come to keep His promise.

Jesus is the image of God

Jesus is fully God and fully human. Jesus is God incarnate. He wasn’t just made in God’s image, He is God himself. Jesus is both an image bearer (human) and the image (God) himself. Jesus came to fulfill the role, to do that which Adam could no longer do since he was a sinner. Adam, while made in God’s image, was no longer able to perfectly reflect God, his Heavenly Father. Jesus was born to accomplish what Adam no longer could. Jesus is the better Adam.

1 Corinthians 15:47-49 says, “The first man (Adam) was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man (Jesus) is from heaven. As was the man of dust (Adam) so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”

Paul speaks here of the reality that while we are made in God’s image, we also bear Adam’s image. We reflect Adam’s image when we rebel against God and choose to do things our way and not God’s. However, all those who have placed their faith in Christ, also bear His image. We are to live in a way that others should be able to see God by the way we live, act, and speak. They should be drawn to us not because of who we are, but because of who we reflect.

Jesus, in his famous Sermon on the Mount, tells those who are listening that they are to, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) An image bearer points to the true image, their heavenly father. This is exactly what Jesus did.

We are to live our lives in the way that Jesus himself modeled for us and tells us to live. We don’t have to guess as to what it means to be made in God’s image. We have seen God in Jesus Christ. Our job then, as a Christian, is to go forth and be an image bearer, reflecting the glory of the Lord so that others will be drawn to Him.

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