19 June 2020

Made in God's Image

In Genesis 1:26-27, God creates humanity. God says "let us make humanity in our image," then follows these words with action, "God created humanity in his own image. In the image of God, male and female, he created them." Notice that God in this verse is plural. In Hebrew, God is "Jehovah Elohim" which is often translated as "Lord God" or simply "God." God also has no gender ascribed in Hebrew, the male pronoun is added to make the sentence work in English. Notice that "humanity" is collective, and "male and female." There is agreement in Hebrew between the plurality of the image of God and the plurality of humanity. The image of God is not a singular form, it is at least "male and female," it requires diversity to be seen.

There are a number of sins that arise from lacking to recognize the image of God in others. The first in the Bible is murder. In God's covenant with Noah, he proclaims, "Whoever sheds man’s blood, his blood will be shed by man, for God made man in his own image" (Genesis 9:6).

Similarly, God prohibits the creation and worshiping of idols numerous times throughout scripture. In Deuteronomy 4:15-18, this prohibition is explained with reference to Israel's history, "You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below."

When we confine our concept of God to a single form, it is an act of hatred toward God (Exodus 20:4-6, Deuteronomy 5:8-10). Portraying the image of God requires all of humanity, both man and woman, young and old, of all nations and races, in all languages. When we show hatred, discount the humanity or dignity of any other person, prioritize material gain over the good of our community, or place our own good above the good of others, we blaspheme and despise the very image of God.

We are made in the image of God, but you cannot see God in the mirror; you can only see God in your neighbor. Your neighbor does not look like you; their culture, income, and outlook are not like your own (Luke 10:25-37). Your neighbor is probably not someone you approve of. Before you start searching Leviticus for some verse to dehumanize them, look first to Leviticus 19:18, as Jesus did, and "love your neighbor as yourself."

If you want to see God, you'll have to see God in your neighbor.

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Please remember to be kind to your brothers and sisters in Christ.