How do you imagine God? What’s the image you get? Throughout history people have tried to imagine God and end up “creating” god and gods from their own imagination! Imagination- Latin “imaginari” To picture… Image is everything!
Imago Dei is latin for “Image of God” and it is a powerful theme throughout the Bible, as well as a very important fundamental principle to grasp.
The Apostle Paul, in his conversation/presentation to Athen’s marketplace leaders, uses this statement to further strengthen his point that not only is the “unknown God” the one and only true God; but he is NOT an idol conceived from man’s imagination! 30000 gods…. Not a picture you have! In reality, man was created by God in His image!
Acts 17:28-29 (Amplified Bible) 28 “For in Him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your [own] poets have said, For we are also His offspring. 29 Since then we are God’s offspring, we ought not to suppose that Deity (the Godhead) is like gold or silver or stone, [of the nature of] a representation by human art and imagination, or anything constructed or invented.”
KEY- Basically Paul is saying that the ultimate proof of God is the person sitting next to you!! God is NOT an idol imagined and made by man! God is the MAKER and man is made in His image! Note how Paul unpacks this…
THE REALITY of your EXISTENCE (“…in Him WE live and move and have OUR being…”)
Gen. 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” 27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
“Imago Dei”- Image of God is profoundly critical to our understanding of how we got “here”, what we’re doing “here”, WHO was, and is the genius, inspiration, imagination behind the reality of our existence! “In HIM we LIVE and MOVE and have our BEING” makes far more sense and actually requires far less faith than to suggest our existence is coincidental or somehow an evolutionary process… Yes, there is evolutionary elements to God’s creation- he designed it that way; BUT LET’S BE CLEAR- MAN WAS CREATED IN GOD’S IMAGE!! Gen. 1:27 So God created human beings in his own image.
Not equal to squirrels or dogs or cats…
A 35 min. teaching is not nearly adequate to unpack this profound concept of “God” and His “image”… BUT we can note a few things that can hopefully help you better understand and perhaps help you when and if this conversation, like in Paul’s case, presents itself.
Reality #1: Man was/is created by God and is “different” from everything else that God created! Only man bears the “image of God” as both “male and female!” This is not a distortion or to suggest God is very interesting, if not grotesque looking!
Reality #2: “Image of God” doesn’t mean exactness, but “likeness.” We are “like” God- image-bearers of our Creator. We are NOT God, but we bear his resemblance in terms of characteristics
Reality #3: We reflect God’s image, NOT so much in bodily form, but in regards to our “nature”, “role and responsibility” in God’s creation. That’s why every person searches for meaning and purpose for life! We’ve lost our identity, our image and our imagination, dominated by sin, runs wild in this pursuit!
God is the ultimate Source- plugging into an electrical outlet, wires behind going to an electrical box, then to box on your street, then to a transformer, ultimately to where the electricity is generated!
Paul is saying to the Athenians and to you today, “You are deeply religious, you’re on a spiritual quest to find meaning and purpose for life, and your imagination congers up all sorts of gods and idols to fill this need; but this only proves God created you with profound meaning and purpose, proves there is one God, and proves you find meaning and purpose when you find Him!
Key- Most people, those we encounter everyday in our movement of life, just don’t know the “image” they bear and the amazing potential this enables. Imago Dei means you REALLY are created on purpose and to live and move and have your being- your existence “IN GOD”- in other words, BEING WHO AND WHAT YOU WERE MADE FOR!
Paul speaks of OUR RELATIONAL NATURE (“…we are also HIS OFFSPRING…”)
Imago Dei” relates us to God. Again, Genesis 1 defines humanity as the image and likeness of God. Being related to God constitutes and substantiates the nature, place, purposes, and responsibilities of human life. It denotes our status, vocation, activity, and goal. Imaging God means that humans are like God both in having ability and responsibility for stewardship of the world and for reflecting the excellences of his rule—wisdom, justice, righteousness, and holiness—in the exercise of that stewardship.
We mar that image…. Pervert it, sin, etc. “Classic Beauty and the Beast”
Everyone is trying to restore that IMAGE! The image of God is the seed of religion and of the need for meaning that every person desires to KNOW.
Jesus… Jewish… God in human form…. Relate etc.
“Imago Dei” relates us to each other, to our fellow man. In Genesis 1 “Adam” is not the proper name of an individual but the generic term for humankind. The image is communal. The human race was created male and female and blessed to procreate so that the image of God might increase and fill the earth. Although God is not gendered or reproductive, the human genders together reflect and multiply his image.
The entire human “community” therefore bears the image of God. Because all humanity images God, sexism or tribalism or racism grossly DISTORTS God’s image! While, the human community and relationships of marriage, family, friendship, organization, even nations—are all facets of the image of God and are intended to reflect the divine virtues of love, justice, and holiness! This is one major reason why God “chose” Israel as a people to be the “people of God” to reveal and restore His image…
“Imago Dei” relates us to our world! God, the Master Sovereign and Steward of the universe- all he had created, made us royal stewards, gave us a home, and blessed us with responsibility to rule the earth on his behalf (not to exploit it). Basically, God authorized man “to live and move and have our being… and be His offspring” in the developing such things as culture and civilization in all their diverse aspects; but in service and obedience to the Creator. Everything we are, do, etc. is to bring honor and glory to Him!
Obviously, man has failed and fallen in his efforts! That’s why again, God sent his only Son- Jesus Christ, to restore our relationship with God and to set things right regarding our authority and responsibilities!
Eph. 1:19-23 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
Eph. 2:4-10 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
So… WHO REPRESENTS WHO? (“…we ought not suppose that Deity is like gold or sliver or stone, a representation by human art and imagination…”)
Paul concludes his thought process by stating that essentially without being renewed in your mind (thinking rightly about God and yourself) and understanding the role of Christ in our restoration, our imaginations run wild and what we create DOES NOT REPRESENT GOD, but instead REPRESENTS THE IDOLS AND FALSE GODS THAT WE IMAGINE!
God can’t be fashioned, can’t be made- it’s why HE ALONE IS GOD! God fashions and makes YOU, you don’t fashion and make him! That’s why anything we imagine and make in our attempt for spiritual meaning and purpose is AN IDOL- what is made by man’s hands!
You are made by God’s hands, in HIS IMAGE- you are NOT a graven (engraved, superficial, etc.) innate object that God has put up on a shelf to simply look at… NO, you are given life and purpose and significance in roles and responsibilities!
YOU represent God!! IMAGO DEI!! Once you KNOW this it changes everything. Not only do you discover the meaning, the purpose, the identity you’ve been searching for, you find YOURSELF in Christ!
Close: Paul says, “Think about it… image is everything… and your image is representative of and in relationship with God! God made you, God loves you, God cares deeply about you, God wants you to KNOW that YOU are His children!”
What does this mean to you?
1 Jn. 3:1-2 See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. 2 Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.
It means you have an identity, an invested Father, and an inheritance that is out of this world!!