Being created in the image of God does not mean God looks like any of us.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis, Chapter 1, Verse 27, King James Version.
I don’t remember the first time I heard that verse of the Bible. I’m sure it was in a Sunday School class or part of a long-forgotten Pastor’s sermon in my little hometown country church when I was a very young child. It probably didn’t prompt me to deep thinking about the subject matter at the time. I was likely preoccupied with getting out of my Sunday best and getting back to being a playful youngster.
But I do vividly remember the paintings and pictures decorating the walls of the church, depicting God as a large grandfatherly-looking white man, with flowing white hair and a full white beard, sitting on a throne in the clouds. And at some point in early reasoning, I began to wonder how we arrived at that particular image of God, and on whose Grandfather it was based. It certainly wasn’t mine, who was tall, thin, and had no hair to speak of.
Of course, that train of thought led me to reason if we are all made in the image of God, why are we all so different looking? There were tall men and women, short men and women, thin, fat, white, brown, black, etc. You get the idea. Which one of us was really the image of God?
As I got a little older, I started to see images and read stories of prehistoric men that resembled apes more than humans, and the thought crossed my mind, did God actually look like the fossilized remains of our ancestors?
I struggled with that concept through my early years, as I have other Bible passages, and no one in church seemed to address it, at least that I can remember. Being quite shy at the time, I was almost afraid of bringing it up, fearful I would be deemed a heretic and burned at the stake.
And at some point, I read something about images, and I started to think about how different types of mirrors can distort your own image in strange and often hilarious ways. I saw myself once in a mirror that was many years old, and had lost much of whatever causes a mirror to reflect an image. I could barely make my own self out, but I knew it was me.
That was about the time I realized that being made in the image of God did not mean a physical likeness, but a spiritual likeness instead. The next time I read Genesis, I better understood the next verse, where God charged the male and female he created with having dominion over every living thing.
God created humans to be similar to Him, not an exact copy, but closer to Him than any other living thing. We have the ability to reason and to create, traits that no other creature on earth can match. Sure animals can learn and some have even developed the ability use tools, but that comes from seeing a process that works for a reward and adapting their behavior to it. No animal can brainstorm with others of its species and invent a new way of doing something or creating something as humans do on a daily basis.
God gave us an incredible gift, but He also gave us a choice of how we use it. Some use the ability to help their fellow man and the planet over which God gave humans dominion, while others use their intelligence and reasoning to develop new and more efficient ways of killing other humans.
The choice is ours, and we are the only ones that can make it as it applies to our own lives. We even have the choice to believe that God exists and we are made in His spiritual image, or that He is merely a fantasy, concocted to control the human race.
Whatever you believe, you still have the choice. Doing the right thing sometimes is difficult, but the ability to recognize what is right and wrong is embedded in the human race, a trait that is uniquely human. Unfortunately, far too many chose not to use it.