It’s a crazy thing, this being made in the image of God. It’s a little hard to get my head around sometimes.
One way I’ve heard it described is similar to how rulers in ancient times would erect statues or busts in various locations of their kingdom so their citizens would recognize their rule. They would put their image on currency so their image would be circulated throughout the kingdom. Their image went out into the kingdom as a proclamation, as much as anything.
We, being made in the image of God, should be a little bit like that: a proclamation to make the King (and his reign) recognizable. Obviously the analogy, like all analogies, falls short at some point.
Today I got to thinking, though, about being the image of God and it occurred to me that kids and parents are a little bit of a picture of this whole image of God concept.
Many of my kids look like me or my husband. But more than their physical appearance, when they go out into the world, they will reflect who we are. The same way I occasionally see my mother coming out in the way I parent my own children.
My kids are learning what it looks like to live as Christ followers by listening to me. More scary is the realization that they are learning from watching me.
I am in their lives to be the image of God to them. I proclaim his reign. How I live life, gives them an image of what this whole walk-with-Jesus-take-up-your-cross-and-follow-him-sacrifice-for-others-love-your-enemies-the-last-shall-be-first-bear-the-fruit-of-the-spirit-live-in-humble-repentance-striving-for-holiness-in-grateful-response-to-his-love thing looks like.
When they look at me, they learn what it is to have a loving Father. They are forming their impression of what a loving Father is by how I do parenting. It is my response to injury, injustice, and insecurity which will echo in their adult minds as they encounter others who are wounded, wronged, and weak. I am laying the foundation for building empathy, compassion, and sacrifice into their marriages. My acceptance and contentment with or argument and complaint about God’s will shapes their view of submitting to God’s will.
In a way, I’ve known all this for years, but it just struck me today about the “image of God” aspect.
As his image bearer, my life reflects on my experience with my Father – his image goes out with me. As my children grow up, their lives will reflect their experience with me – it’s like my image goes out with them.
What image will my kids reflect?
I sure hope they look like my Father.