Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.…” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
—Genesis 1:26a; 27
When people see me with my seven-year-old granddaughter, they say, “She's the spittin’ image of you!” I am thrilled to hear this, even though our eyes are different colors and right now she has very few front teeth.
I think we look alike, not only because we are genetically related,but also, and maybe more importantly, because we spend so much time together and have since the day she was born.
To be made "in the image" of God does not refer to physical appearance so much as to a certain quality or even a certain function. In the Ancient Near East, the culture which influenced the author of Genesis, the expression "image of god" was used of ruling monarchs who were thought to be the gods’ special representatives, with a divine mandate to rule.
Thus, according to Genesis, from the beginning, we were created to be God’s representatives on earth. That is a startling revelation because it brings with it the responsibility to mediate God’s steadfast love and mercy to our world. It challenges us to work for justice and freedom for all people, and it requires us to regularly be present to God, whom we represent.
To "be present to God" can take many forms, just the way being present to friends and family members takes many forms. My granddaughter and I don’t do the same thing every time we’re together: sometimes we play school, sometimes we read books, sometimes we go outside where she can run fast, her hair flying behind her. Sometimes, we just sit together very close in a chair and hug each other. No wonder we’ve begun to look alike!
Some theologians tell us that without us, God can do nothing in the world. I am not so sure about that, but I do know this: without being present to God, I cannot possibly hope to mediate God’s will for our world, or for my own life. Being made in the image of God is an awesome thing; much is required of us but even more is given in return.
Blessed are you, O God, for creating us in your image. May we daily reflect your image. Amen.
Copyright © 2010 Margaret Jones.