Of all the living creatures God made, he determined to make only one kind of being in his image: us. In Genesis 1 we read, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
This unique, image-bearing aspect of mankind is sometimes referred to as the imago dei (Latin for image of God), and it means that there are special things about us that are reflective of God’s very nature. What kinds of things? The capacity for reason and nuanced emotion. The capacity for relationship; the ability to know others and be known by them. An inherent moral “compass” with the ability to discern right from wrong. The calling to fruitfulness and dominion in the world. And most importantly, the capacity to know and commune with God. A willow tree doesn’t have these traits. Neither does a buffalo or a butterfly, an asteroid or a river. Of God’s whole created order, only men and women are made in his image. This was his idea—and he called it “very good.”
King David marveled at this when he wrote, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you care for him?”2 David “got” that his place in God’s created order wasn’t earned. It was bestowed. God made him significant, and “crowned him with glory and honor,” not because of anything he did, but because of what God decided to do. That means if we didn’t conjure in ourselves the image of God, we can’t lose it. And if we derive our sense of worth from anything else, it will always be at risk.
Everyone at some point wonders, “Who am I?” We wonder “Who made me this way?” and “Why am I here?” God says we are living creatures made to bear his image. There is nothing that could grant us greater dignity than this, and nothing more humbling. (Hence, David’s “What is man….?”) The truth that we are made in the image of God gives us a sense of calling and purpose and security. Realizing we are designed to know and be known by God—to love him and be loved by him—should be the rock-solid foundation of our identity.
To the question “Who am I?” the Bible answers that we are living creatures made by God to bear his own image. We are designed to know and be known by God and to love and be loved by him. He is our reason for being and our source of deepest joy.
Genesis 1:26-27 “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Video Segment: (5:48 – 6:14) One of the scariest feelings is the feeling of not knowing who you are. It’s easy to look to other people –just trying to be who they want us to be. But when we do that, we can end up feeling hollow, like we’re just always acting a part and never quite getting the lines right. A lot of people in the world today say that the answer is to look inside yourself: look deep within and find out who you are.
“Christians ground human uniqueness on the biblical claim that we are made in the image of God. Just as God calls creation into being, so he calls humans to serve as his representatives on earth, in a special relationship with their Creator and with each other, and charged with moral responsibility.” ~ Rebecca McLaughlin, Confronting Christianity