When people say, “You are the spitting image of your father,” what do they mean? Perhaps you look like him, or you might have mannerisms that resemble his. When people see you, they see your dad.
The Bible says that God made humans “in his own image”:
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27, NIV)
So in some way, both men and women resemble God.
Let’s explore this idea more.
What Does It Mean to Be Made in God’s Image?
Humans Are Unique
After God spoke the sky, land, sun, moon, stars, trees, and animals into existence, he saw that his handiwork was “good” (Genesis 1:25).
Then God made humans. There is something intimate in the way the Bible describes this. Rather than just speak, God took dirt from the earth and formed it into a man (Genesis 2:7). God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7 ESV). From this man, he took a rib and made a woman (Genesis 2:21-22).
After these works of art, he saw that his creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). This superlative hints at something special about humans not shared by the rest of creation. The creation of humans was uniquely personal and celebrated by God.
Humans Have Dignity
The first book of the Bible records God’s desire for his special creatures like this, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26, NIV). Our Creator verbalizes a supreme distinction between humans and all other creatures.
We are God’s special creation. He gave us intrinsic dignity because we’re designed in his likeness.
Every human possesses the image of God. This is why people who take the Bible seriously fight for the “sanctity of life” when it comes to issues like abortion and euthanasia.
Because if we take God at his Word, then every human—no matter their age, race, gender, physical or mental capabilities—bears the likeness of their Maker. Every human life is sacred.
Humans Resemble God
God made you like him. Just like you resemble your parents and are made in their “image,” so also there are several characteristics you share with God.
- Spirituality: You have a soul and are capable of spiritually communing with God, who is spirit (John 4:24).
- Morality: Just like God, as the source of all goodness, has a moral nature, you also have a conscience. You make moral choices (Romans 2:14-16).
- Intellect: Similar to God, you are a perceptive being capable of thinking and discourse. How do we know God speaks? He tells us that the Bible is his Word (2 Timothy 3:16), revealing to us that we communicate thoughts and ideas because he does too (Proverbs 2:6).
- Relationship: God created the first man, Adam, and placed him in a paradise. God allowed Adam to communicate with him directly. Despite this, Adam was still alone (Genesis 2:18). So, God gave him a partner suited to his humanness—the woman, Eve (Genesis 2:20-22). Hence, marriage, friendship, family, etc.! Because we are made in God’s image, we can relate both with God and other people.
- Emotions: Like God, we are creative, emotional beings able to communicate how we feel through words and actions (Genesis 1:1, John 13:34).
- Choices: As with the first man and woman, we all make decisions and bear the consequences (Deuteronomy 30:19, Proverbs 1:28-31).
- Work: As God is sovereign over all things, he granted us a “derived authority” over his creation with the responsibility of tending the environment (Genesis 2:15). We were given dominion over the creation to “rule” over the birds of the air, creatures of the sea, land animals, and vegetation (Genesis 1:28).
In at least these seven ways, we reflect the nature of God.
Why Did God Make Humans in His Image?
To Reflect God’s Glory
Why did God create us in his image? God says in the Bible that he created people for his “glory” (Isaiah 43:7). And the last book of the Bible reads, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:11 ESV).
A well-made self-portrait brings attention to its artist; it glorifies him or her. So also we glorify our Maker. As we reflect attributes of God—like mercy, love, and creativity—we bring glory to God in ways no other creatures can.
And here we find our purpose. God made us to reflect himself—to mirror his nature in our thoughts, speech, and behavior. His renown is spread through creatures that reflect him.
To Enjoy a Relationship with God
God didn’t just make us to reflect himself, but also to enjoy him by having a relationship with him. God commands us, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV).
You were made like God so that you might love God in every way that you share his likeness. God made you to know him, love him, and enjoy him in ways no other creature can.
You were made like God so that you might love God in every way that you share his likeness.
Is this your experience? Would you say that you personally know, love, and enjoy the God you were made to resemble?
If you don’t know him yet, how might you begin to know him?
Second, open God’s Word and hear what he has to say.
A great place to begin reading would be the very first book, Genesis, where God begins his story. In the first few chapters, you’ll find the story of creation, and the design of humankind.
So open it up, and let the Author speak for himself about what it means to be made in God’s image.