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God’s Image in the World


Icons are images or symbols that represent something larger than themselves. We see icons every day on computers and phones; when we open them, the program they represent becomes present.

In the same way, today’s Scripture tells us that humans are made as “images” (a word that could also be translated “icons”) of God. As “icons” of God, humans have the gift of a unique and intimate relationship with our Creator. Humans alone are made in God’s image; no other creature is given this designation. Human beings are made to represent God in the world, to make God’s very presence known wherever we go.

This truth should make us ask an important question: how do our lives point to God and represent Him in the world? First, God declared: “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over” the rest of creation (1:26). Notice the purpose given for being made in God’s image is so that we might rule. God’s divine kingship over His creation, His presence in the world, was represented by mankind. Careful care of creation was intended as a way for mankind to bear the image of the Creator God.

Second, this gift of being image-bearers was coupled with God’s word of blessing. “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (1:28). God’s “icons” in the world were to multiply and fill the earth, not just biologically but spiritually as well. God’s presence and kingship were to spread throughout the world by means of the multiplication of image-bearers. The end of our passage, then, demonstrates the perfection of God’s creation after mankind. He declared the world “very good” (1:31) and then “rested from all his work” (2:2).

Apply the Word

We regularly fail in our responsibility to be “icons” of God in the world. Thankfully, because Christ is the perfect “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), our union with Him enables us to represent God to those around us. Consider one way you might bear the image of God in the world today by your creativity or caring for one who needs a friend.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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