Who do you look like in your family? I look remarkably like my mom. Maybe you can tell from this picture, taken a few years ago. Sometimes looking in the mirror startles me! There are times when my facial expression and the words I use look and sound just like her! This month in chapel we talked about what it means to be an image bearer. I clearly bear the image of my mother. God tells us in His Word that when He created us, He created us in His image! No one can say that “you have God’s nose,” or “you laugh just like your Heavenly Father,” so I discussed with my students ways that God’s image is clearly seen in us.
Some of the ways we bear God’s image include:
- We have a capacity to love which, by the way, is infinite! When I had my second child, I didn’t have to take some of the love from my first child to have love for my second. I can love as many people as I am willing to love, as much as I am willing to love them! God says we should love everyone, even our enemies, so He has provided us with the capacity to do that!
- We are relational beings. We thrive in relationship with each other and with God. God walked in the Garden with Adam and enjoyed fellowship with him. When our relationships are broken, it hurts, because we are made for relationship.
- Related to that, we are communicative beings. We can express our needs, wants, ideas, and feelings. We can have rational discussion and even argue our points in a reasonable way. We are able to make ourselves understood, and to understand each other. If we don’t understand, we can ask questions to clarify until we do understand!
- We are creative beings. God created this beautiful world out of nothing! We can’t do that, but we can create some amazing things! When I was a little girl, if I wanted to talk on the phone, I had to sit by the phone which was connected to the wall with a cord. In fact, we had a rotary dial only. I was an adult by the time “cordless” phones became the norm, and a mother of two before I had my first clunky cell phone. Now I have a phone that does everything my computer can do and more! I am continually amazed at the creativity of each generation!
These are just a few ways that we are “image-bearers”. Unfortunately, our image-bearing is flawed, isn’t it? Although we have capacity to love, we often choose to withhold love, or we love ourselves much more than we love others and are selfish. Although we are relational, we often hurt and sabotage our relationships rather than nurture and grow them. While we are capable of communicating and understanding, we often choose not to understand and often communicate in unkind ways. While we are creative, we often use our creativity to find ways to do harm or justify sin. God’s image in us is marred by the effects of the fall.
That’s what makes the rest of the story so amazing! God didn’t leave us in this pitiful state. He did the most incredible thing, and sent His Son, who perfectly bore His image, to take on ours!
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. Colossians 1:15
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Philippians 2:6-8
Jesus became like us! He knows what it feels like to be us. He even knows what it is like to be a child. He probably suffered a skinned knee a time or two. He knows what it is like to be scolded by his parents. Remember the time he was in the temple and his parents couldn’t find him? They were scared and worried. They didn’t know where he was! In Hebrews 4:15 it says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” He can sympathize with us. He “gets” us. Philip Yancey, in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace? put it this way, “On earth, living among us, he learned what it was like. He put himself on our side.”
We know that the remedy for the fall is the redemption we receive through faith in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that when someone becomes a Christian, they become “a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!” Romans 8:29 says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” Did you catch that? We have come full circle – first being made in His image, then flawed by the fall, Jesus came, taking on our image, saving us from the effects of the fall, now we are being made into the image of the Son.
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decide in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. Ephesians 1:4-7
God had this plan all along! You know, we have a lot of students that are adopted. When I first talked about looking like my mother, I suspect a few of them were feeling left out. Maybe they don’t think they look like their parents. Well, I have thought about that. I know of many older married couples that look like each other. All of those years living together, they take on each other’s mannerisms and begin to look similar. I have also noticed that a lot of adopted children look like their adoptive families. I am not talking about skin color or hair color, although that can be true as well. There is just something about being in close relationship with each other that we begin to resemble one another. God adopted us into His family and He is making us into the image of His Son! We started out so unlike Him, but we are becoming more like Him every day. But what does He look like?
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. …Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. John 1:14, 16-18
Jesus is “full of grace and truth”. The more time we spend with Him, the more we will become like Him, taking on His characteristics. We will begin to “look like” his brother or sister. If that is happening, then people ought to see in us the “family resemblance”. They should see grace and truth in us! Wouldn’t it be great if someone who had just met you said, “You look just like Jesus! Any chance you are related to Him?”
How can you be the image of Christ to those who don’t know Him? With my students, we will be exploring this further next month. We are going to learn about what “grace and truth” looked like in the life of Jesus.
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
2 Corinthians 3:18