Friday, December 18, 2009

The Image of God in Man and Christ

The Bible speaks of the image of God in two ways. Gen. 1:27 says that humans are made in the image of God. Col. 1:15 says that Christ is the image of the invisible God.

The creation of humans in the image of God means, among other things, that humans in some way reflect something of the nature of God. Thus, the plural God creates not just a man, but man and woman. Thus, God mediates his authority over the earth through his image-bearers (Gen. 1:28). But sin marred that image and introduced a creation-wide curse.

Jesus was not created, but is and always was the perfect image of God. What sinful man marred, sinless Christ displayed perfectly as the incarnate Son of God. The authority of God over not only the earth, but indeed over all creation, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, is expressed in that perfect image, Christ. Christ, not Adam, is the firstborn over all creation.

So how do these two relate?

The answer comes in our being adopted by God the Father by means of being incorporated into Christ. We are not sons and daughters of God along with Christ, but in Christ. Thus " [Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority." (Col. 2:9-10). Paul explained Christ's headship over all rule and authority in 1:15-20, only to say that humans are filled in Christ and his fullness here in ch. 2. 3:9b-10 relates it back to Christ as Image of God: "...seeing that you have put off the old man with its practices and have put on the new man, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."

Put simply, Christians are adopted by the Father through our incorporation into the Son so that the image of God in man is renewed in the Son's perfect image. Put even more simply, my life is Christ's life. So the foundation of Christian living in Col. 3, before any specific moral command, is this: "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God...For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Col. 3:1, 3).

For all who follow Christ, the image of God in man is no longer the old sin-marred image from Eden, but the untainted image of the Son. That perfected image is what we strive for and what the Spirit points to in our every day attempt at sanctification.

This is also why we don't long for a return to Eden; we long for the New Creation, when our lives in Christ will look much more, well, Christly. Spiritual new creation surpasses the old creation, even before sin. Adam didn't look like God in Gen. 1 nearly so much as we will in Rev. 21.

1 comment:

glen. said...

Funny. I'm speaking on this tonight.