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Man in the image of God signifies a special standing

The meaning of “Image of God”

Out of all the creatures God made, only man is said to be made in the image of God in the Genesis account of the creation:

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Genesis 1:26-28).

The fact that humanity was created in the image of God in the simplest terms means that humanity is like God and represents God. Since this is the straightforward meaning of the biblical expressions, the Bible does not need to say something like, “The fact that man is in the image of God means that man is like God in the following ways: intellectual ability, moral purity, spiritual nature, dominion over the earth, creativity, ability to make ethical choices, and immortality.”

Such an explanation is unnecessary, because no such list could do justice to the subject. The text only needs to affirm that man is like God and the rest of the Bible fills in more details to explain this. In fact, as we read the Bible, we realise that a full understanding of man’s likeness to God would require a full understanding of who God is in his being and in his actions and a full understanding of who man is and what he does. The more we know about God and man the more similarities we will recognize, and the more fully we will understand what the Bible means when it says that man is in the image of God. The expression refers to every way in which man is like God. Clearly the image of God endows human life with special dignity and worth.

The implications of being created in the image of God can be seen in a threefold covenant relationship:

· Humans are directed towards God. We were created to respond to God in love and to be responsible to him. All human relationships are to be seen as dominated and regulated by our relationship with God. To be a human being in the truest sense, therefore, means to love God above all, to trust him and obey him, thank him and honour him.

· Humans are directed toward other humans. We were created for covenant as social beings and not as isolated beings, complete in ourselves. All men and women need the fellowship of others as no one is complete apart from others. The very fact that we are told to love our neighbour as ourselves implies that we need and enrich each other in a covenant relationship..

· Humans are directed towards nature. God gave humans the responsibility to rule the created world as his representative. We are called to develop all the potentialities found i nature and in humankind as a whole. We must seek to develop agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, science, technology and art in a God-glorifying culture.

God has placed humanity into all three of these relationships. Each one is as important and as indispensable as the other two. We cannot exist or function properly without any of them. These relationships are also interrelated. Humans are inescapably related to God; this is our most important relationship. But this relationship does not exist without the two others, and is not realised apart from them. Our relationship with our fellow human beings is a form in which our relationship to God realises itself. We show our love for God by means of our love for others (1 John 4:20). When we love others and when we work responsibly with God’s creation, we are at the same time serving God.