Image Bearers

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Photo credit: Erik-Johansson Reflection on Mirror Lake

Image Bearers

Guest Blog By Jonathan Martin. 


Guest Blogger, Jonathan Martin is a full-time follower of Jesus, committed to helping people discover a deep, passionate, and active relationship with the Savior. (See full bio at the end of this blog)

When my first child was born, we entertained a lot of visitors. And it didn’t take long after the arrival of each guest before they began engaging in the common practice of trying to figure out which parent the baby resembled the most.

What became comical, however, is that nobody seemed to agree on which parent the child looked like. Some people said the baby looked like me, while others said she looked like her mom. It eventually became clear to us that there was no consensus. Our baby was the perfect mix of both her mommy and daddy. She not only carried our DNA and genes, but she also carried our image. She had our likeness.

I can’t help but think about the similarities between the creation of a baby, and God’s creation of humanity. The book of Genesis tells us that when God created human beings, He created them in His own likeness: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them,” (Gen. 1:27). Just as children bear the image and likeness of their biological parents, all of humanity bears the image of their Creator.

Let that sink in for a moment. In your humanness, you carry the imprint of God! You bear the likeness of the Almighty Creator of the universe!

This truth, commonly referred to as the imago dei, seems really simple. We only see it explicitly stated in two verses found in the book of Genesis. Yet upon further reflection, it becomes clear that this principle contains significant implications. Here are at least three:

  1. God’s image gives every human being inherent worth and value. While humanity is diverse in gender, race, and socioeconomic status, the common thread between all people is God’s image. As such, there is no theological reason to consider any person as inferior or unequal. Whatever value we place on God dictates the value we place on His image bearers. To devalue a human being is to devalue the image of God reflected in that human being. This is the principle behind Jesus’ command to “do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matt. 7:12). When we understand that all human beings bear the image of God, how can we treat an image bearer differently than another image bearer? We all bear God’s image. We all have the same value. We are all redeemed with the same blood of Christ.

  1. Morality is measured by how closely a person reflects God’s likeness. Scripture reveals to us that the foundation of God’s character is love (1 John 4:8). Given this fact, it isn’t surprising to see that love is also at the center of God’s moral code (Matthew 22:7-40). The fundamental difference between right and wrong is simply the difference between a loving action and an unloving one. Morality, then, is equivalent to God-likeness. Since God created us in his image, He calls us to reflect that image in our lives. Actions that resemble God-likeness should be considered moral, while actions that deviate from God-likeness should be considered immoral. Any deviation from God-likeness is missing the mark because God-likeness is God’s standard of morality.

  1. A person’s identity is defined by our God-likeness. An identity is “the condition of being oneself, and not another.” In other words, an identity is what makes a person distinctly that person. It’s what sets that person apart from all other persons. In creating us in his likeness, God gave us our identities. In order to be who we were created to be, we must reflect the image we were created to reflect. God-likeness is our true identity. This is why God could tell the Israelites to “be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). It is also why Peter counsels the Christian church to do the same thing (1 Peter 1:16). The process of sanctification, then, is simply the process of becoming who we were always meant to be. It is the process of finding our true identities.

Rafiki tells Simba to “look harder. You see he lives in you,” when he looks for his father’s reflection in the water. If we look hard enough”

In the classic animated film, The Lion King, Rafiki promises to show Simba that his father, Mufasa, was not dead. Rafiki then leads Simba to a body of water and tells Simba to look into it. When Simba peeks over the edge, all he sees is a reflection of himself, just as he is. But when Rafiki tells Simba to look harder, the image changes to reflect Simba’s father. When Simba recognized that he was the image bearer of his father, he grasped his true identity as the rightful king of Pride Rock.

Many of us walk around like Simba; never realizing who we really are. It is only when we recognize our identities as image bearers of the Creator that we discover our true selves. Would you like to live a disingenuous life? Or would you rather live your life as the person you really are? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather live like the image bearer I am!


Jonathan Martin’s Full Bio

Jonathan is a full-time follower of Jesus, committed to helping people discover a deep, passionate, and active relationship with the Savior. He is also the Young Adult and Family Life pastor at Markham Woods Church in Longwood, and has been serving as a minister in the Florida Conference for the last seven years.

Jonathan completed his undergraduate degree at Southern Adventist University, and holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary on the campus of Andrews University. He is currently completing a Doctor of Ministry degree with an emphasis in Ministry to Emerging Generations from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Jonathan is married to the love of his life, Raisel Martin, and has two elementary aged children. In his spare time, Jonathan enjoys reading writing, painting, globetrotting, and instigating arguments on social media.

Jonathan can be followed on Twitter @pastor_jmartin

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