This week I returned to an abandoned book project tentatively titled “Broken: Our Journey to Wholeness Through Anxiety, Pain and Adversity”. I started this project about six months ago and quickly abandoned it because it was getting way too personal way too quickly and I wasn’t quite ready to share my journey with the world. This week I started thinking about it again and wrote a few hundred words on what it means to be an image bearer of the divine.
Here is some of what I wrote – I hope you enjoy it.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. [Genesis 1:26,27]
We are God’s image bearers. That much is clear, but what exactly does that mean?
No one has ever seen God so we have no idea if or how we might resemble him in any physical way. So how can we know that we are His image bearers?
(The image to the left that Michelangelo painted on the ceiling of Sistine Chapel has unfortunately become what most people associate with the image of God but it is complete fantasy and I dare say heretical.)
It might be helpful at this point to remind ourselves that one of the most enduring images that God uses to describe Himself and his relationship with His creation is through the metaphor of family. Families resemble one another in a myriad of ways, both physically and psychologically. Physical similarities are the result of DNA, psychological similarities are the result of shared experiences, a shared upbringing and shared values. When God says that he is the father and that we are his children, He is setting up a powerful image in our minds for what he expects from us and giving us a starting point for how we are to bear his image.
From the very beginning we are given a glimpse of what it means to be an image bearer of God through the creation story itself and these ideas permeate throughout the rest of Judeo-Christian scripture and history. For our purposes we can narrow it down into 3 main attributes the are key to effective image bearing.
Image bearers of the divine are- creative, autonomous and overflowing with love. For the rest of this chapter I am going to unpack each of those concepts in kind. I recognize that this may not be everyone’s experience but remember the title of this book is Broken. These concepts my not be your reality, but they are the ideal. We’ll get deeper into why these things are not the case in most of our lives a bit later. Part two is where I will really start to examine and unpack the depth and causes of our brokenness.
Before we can understand how and why something is broken we first must understand how things are supposed to be. Like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, you need to examine the picture on the front of the box so you know what perfection looks like. Think of these first few chapters are the picture on the front of the box.
From that introduction I intend to develop each attribute more completely with examples and explanations. Stay tuned for more as I work it through. Thanks for reading… Lauren
L C Sheil writes regularly about, spirituality, life and business coaching. He is the founder and director of The Matthew 5:5 Society (formerly The Meekonomics Project) where he coaches ministry and business leaders to Live Life to the Fullest in Complete Submission to the Will of God.
Mr. Sheil has authored two books and is available for public speaking and one on one coaching in the areas of work life balance, finding and living your core values and financial literacy. Write to The Matthew 5:5 Society here for more information or follow L C Sheil on twitter and instagram.