As we think about our vision for the church I want to establish some fundamental truths from Scripture. The first of these is found in Genesis 1:27 where we read, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Scholars have debated for centuries what it means to be created in God’s image. Of course we know that it doesn’t mean that we were created in God’s physical image since God is spirit (John 4:24). And we know logically that we don’t have the same Godly attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. So what does it mean to be created in God’s image?
I believe that part of the answer is that we represent God. I don’t mean that we are gods but we are his envoys, the mediators of his presence here on earth. In the New Testament we are called “Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20), his “body” (1 Corinthians 12:27). As his representatives then, we are to demonstrate to the world what God is like in his moral character. We’ve been made in his image.
I once heard Charles Price tell an audience that his eldest daughter was born with something of a problem. As he said that the whole auditorium went quiet. He continued, “Fortunately with time, the problem is going away. Her basic problem is that people used to say to her “You look just like your father.” You can imagine that’s a problem, as she’s a girl!
And he went on to tell of a time when a friend, whom he hadn’t seen for 15 years, came to visit him at his office. Charles was busy in a meeting and couldn’t come out right away, so his friend sat in the waiting room for a number of minutes. Finally Charles was free and he and his friend greeted one another – and the friend said, to Charles, “I didn’t know you had a daughter.”
Charles replied, “How did you know I had a daughter?”
“Well,” said the friend, “as I was sitting there waiting for you, a little girl walked by and I said to myself, “Look at that, there’s a little Charles Price with a dress on.”
Then he said this, “She’s your image.”
What did he mean? He meant that as he looked at her she reminded him of what her father was like. So it follows, when God created humanity in his image, he created us in such a way that when people look us they should be able to see a reflection, a representation of the character of God.
Of course we know that the image of God has been marred by sin in our lives. But we also know that the image is restored in us when Jesus Christ takes up residence in our lives through faith. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
So as we think of our vision together we need to ask ourselves, “How is God’s character seen in us as we relate to one another and to our community?” “Are we being image bearers?” And then individually we need to ask, “How am I being God’s representative in my school, or work or home?” “When people look at me do they see what God is like?”
Pondering some deep questions with you, Tom.