We are all birthed into this life as expressions of God and are intended to reflect and resemble Him as children. When we consider Scripture describes the essence of God as eternal ‘Spirit, Light and Love’ (a), how closely can any of us measure up? [See end notes for all Scriptures] Other than Jesus Christ (b), is it reasonable to think any man or woman could actually be the ‘image and likeness of God’ (c)?
As I consider God’s amazing character, attitude and personality (CAP), I am embarrassed at how immature I am. On my best days, the quality of my expressions lacks the brilliance of His light and the purity of His love. Truly we “see in a mirror dimly and know in part” (d).
While Jesus was tempted in every way like us, he lived without sin (e). Yet, he maintained the attitude that any real equality with God is not to be grasped (f). As our visible example of Gods’ reflective resemblance (image and likeness), Jesus rarely spoke of himself as a son of God. He generally referred to himself as a responsive ‘son’ of man (over 40 times).
So where do you and I fit into the scheme of things? As children tend to be, we are inconsistent. One day we seem to be on target and the next we stumble and fall short. At our best, we only partially reflect and resemble God’s CAP, as bits and pieces. As individuals, we fall far short from any real resemblance of ‘complete.’
The answer to our ‘in part’ is found in our interaction with one another. We are simply unable to fully be the ‘image and likeness of God’ single-handedly; and that is not God’s intention. When we interact with one another in godly ways, we function as contributors and add value to a greater fullness.
Jesus said those who respond to God as Father are his ‘many membered body’ (g). The ‘body of Christ’ is made up of people that ascribe to the ways of God, as interacting parts (h). Our encouraging interactions and activity lend to making God’s CAP visible in the earth and contribute to drawing others into the interactive culture of Christ (k).
When we interact in godly ways, we function as contributors and add value to a greater fullness.
Complete Rather than Perfect
I know, our Bibles say Jesus instructed us to ‘be perfect’ as our heavenly Father (m). Perfection however is a miss-conception conveyed by our translations. The original language of Scripture actually says, “Be complete as our heavenly Father is complete.” In the account of the creation, God even refers to Himself as ‘Us’ and ‘Our’ (n). No one is complete in and of ourselves, we need each other.
Since every person has the spirit of life in them (a deposit of our heavenly Father), we are all part of the family of God. Yes, some close and some distant, as the Prodigal Son (o).
We want to realize several passages in Scripture speak of ‘you’ in a plural sense. Rather than individuals, these passages address interactive bodies of people. They are written not to individuals but to groups; the Colossians, Corinthians, and Romans. A few such examples are; “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (p), “The Spirit of God dwells in you” (q), and “your body is the Temple of God” (r). The greater truth is no one is perfect, we become more ‘complete’ in our interactions.
Original language of Scripture actually says, “Be complete as our heavenly Father is complete.”
Collective Image and Likeness of God
We become more complete, rather than perfect, within our godly interactions (s). When God spoke the phrase we are examining from the Creation account, He clearly indicated a collective us: “Let us make man in our reflection, according to our resemblance” (t). The word ‘man,’ did not speak of the individual Adam; it was the collective ‘mankind’ which includes male and female. Thus, God’s design for humanity is a collective ‘us’ – the visible whole – as expressions of ‘His ways’.
Each of our lives begins as an empty slate, ready to receive input. Our personal nature begins to form in mother’s womb and continues to form as we accept information from parents, relatives, friends, teachers, work cohorts, and our heavenly Father. What we receive forms us into expressive “epistles that are known and read by all” (u).
God’s design for humanity is a collective ‘us’ – the visible whole – as expressions of ‘His ways’.
Truly Understanding and Reflecting God’s Ways
Most of our struggles and misunderstandings are with what we have been taught; the ideas we have accepted as truth formulate what we believe. Many of our beliefs are founded on archaic understandings of God and miss-translations of Scripture. So, we struggle with ideas of God and His ways, based on concepts that our Bibles even appear to support.
One example is the common declaration; God loves you with an everlasting love ‘yet’ He could torment you eternally. Do we really think God is like the fictional Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a loving guy that can also be very angry and harmful? This is terribly confusing and troubling. Is God really like us, undependable, or are we reaching and learning to be like Him?
When we are patient, forgiving, kind, and peaceful, we reflect and resemble the CAP of our heavenly Father (w)! It is correct, “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (y).
Bottom line – our expressive attitude and actions demonstrate how mature we are becoming. Granted, none of us can fully be God’s ‘image and likeness.’ That said, we can follow Jesus’ example as a ‘responsive son’. When we are led by our eternal and Paternal Father, our intentional lifestyle choices and godly interactions enable us to progressively mature, together.
While no one can fully be God’s ‘image and likeness,’ we can follow Jesus’ example as a ‘responsive son’.
a) 1 John 1:5; I John 4:8, 16; b) Colossians 1:15; 2 Corinthians 4:4; c) Genesis 1:26-27; d) 1 Corinthians 13:11-12; e) Hebrews 5:14; f) Philippians 2:5-6; g) 1 Corinthians 12:12-20; Romans 12:3-5; h) Matthew 18:20; Ephesians 4:15-16, 29; k) Matthew 5:16; James 2:24; 1 Peter 2:12; m) Matthew 5:43-48; n) Genesus1:26; o) Luke 15:11-32; p) Colossians 1:27; q) 1 Corinthians 3:16; r) 1 Corinthians 6:19; s) John 17:23; t) Genesis 1:26-27; u) 2 Corinthians 3:2; w) Galatians 5:22-23, 25; y) James 3:17