When we look into a mirror, we see an image of ourselves. We recognize the face because of it’s distinguishing characteristics. But my image in that mirror is only a reflection, not the real me. The same holds true of a photo, a painting, a sculpture, all of these are likenesses. They may come very close, the resemblance is so recognizable, but we can’s say that the image is the real thing.
Bringing the Bible to Life for Mom
God Created People Differently
Today, you will read Genesis 1:26-27 to find out how God created people differently from all of the other creatures. When we read these verses, we see that God created people in his own image (NIV) or likeness (NIrV). God did not create the animals, plants or even the stars, sun or moon in His image. He only created people in His image. It’s a humbling thing to realize that you were created, much less that you were created in God’s image. It means you are tied to and utterly dependent upon the one who created you. We are dependent upon our creator for every breath taken and our entire personhood is tied to our creator.
Made in the Image of God
To be made in the likeness of something means to reflect the properties of something so that it is recognizable. A likeness can be in the form of a photo, a sculpture, a painting, even a reflection in a mirror. The key is that the likeness has enough distinguishing characteristics of the original that it is easily recognizable. It is not an exact copy, duplicate, or clone, it is however, close enough in appearance that it is recognizable. It resembles the original.
Reflecting God’s Nature and Character
Now, God is spirit (John 4:24), so the fact that we are made in His image (likeness) does not mean we physically look like Him. What it means is that we reflect his nature, his character and his work. When we say we reflect the nature and character of God we are in essence saying that we have a mental likeness, a moral likeness and a social likeness to the God who created us. We are reflecting the communicable traits of God.
The Ability to Reason
From an intellectual perspective, God has given us reason and the power to choose. This is a likeness to God’s intellect. Now, as creator of all truth and source of all knowledge, only God has perfect intellect and reason. This means that all of God’s decisions and choices are perfect. Ours are not, but the very fact that we have the capability to reason, choose and create is a reflection of God’s image in us. People have intellectual abilities that allow them to do all kinds of things from making decisions to inventing things! Some people play an instrument, others like to paint and some are better at math or writing. This is a reflection of God’s likeness.
An Internal Conscience
From a moral perspective, God has created people with a conscience. An internal gauge of what is right. If we are honest, we see that our own selfish motivations taint our moral perspective. And because God is perfectly righteous, holy and just, he is able to see through our motivations. But when we are kind to someone, extend forgiveness, recognize something as unfair or feel guilty over our sin, we are reflecting God’s image in us.
From a social perspective, God has created people to live interdependently (or in community). This is a reflection of the triune nature of God himself (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). We will see that God made woman because “it was not good for man to be alone.” When we live in fellowship with other people, we are reflecting God’s image. When we marry, make a friend, join a group, go to church or even hug someone who is hurting, we are living in the likeness of God.
Incommunicable Attributes of God
There are some parts of God’s image that we cannot reflect, these are what we call the incommunicable attributes of God. Here is a list of some of those attributes that are impossible for us to possess:
- God is omniscient (all-knowing). Psalm 147:5, Isaiah 40:28
- God is omnipresent (present everywhere, all the time). Psalm 139:7-12
- God is omnipotent (all-powerful). Ephesians 1
- God is sovereign (He has complete authority and control). Revelation 19:6
- God is immutable (He never changes). Malachi 3:6
These things remind us that we can never be exactly like God. It’s good to be reminded that God is vastly greater than we are, because we are prone to want to be the gods of our own lives!
Bringing the Bible to Life for Kids
Let’s look a little closer at just how God created people. Have your child read read Genesis 1:26-29, or read it for the children who can’t yet read.
Ask your child the following questions, giving the children time to answer:
- Who created you? (God created me! The answer is found in Genesis 1:27)
- What made people different from the rest of God’s creation? (God made people in his own likeness, to be like him Genesis 1:26 and 27).
Made in the Likeness of God
To be made in the likeness of something means to be similar enough to the original that the original is recognizable. A likeness can be in the form of a photo, a sculpture, a painting, even a reflection in a mirror. The key is that the likeness has enough distinguishing characteristics of the original that it is easily recognizable. It is not an exact copy, duplicate, or clone, it is however, close enough in appearance that it is recognizable. And the image can never actually BE the original. It only resembles the original.
Image Object Lesson
Give each child a clean piece of paper and some crayons. Ask each child to make a self-portrait, drawing a picture of himself/herself. Mom and Dad can also join the fun by creating their own self-portrait. Now, mix up the drawings and see if you can guess who is in the picture. Be sure to notice the distinguishing traits each one included in their self-portrait. Was it easy to make a right match? Did you learn anything about each other that you didn’t already know, like what features stood out to the artist?
Now, do another drawing. Have each child make a portrait of the other people in the family. What did you learn by doing this? Do your kids identify any different traits for the people in the family? Things that perhaps the self-portraits did not include? Sometimes there is a difference in what we see in ourselves vs. what others see in us.
Bringing it Home
The fact that we are made in God’s image (likeness) does not mean we physically look like Him. We don’t know what God looks like. Being made in God’s image means that we reflect his nature, his character and his work. There are some traits of God that we can reflect in the world, things like kindness, compassion, truthfulness, being patient, being loving and extending forgiveness. When you see someone in your family practicing these things, be sure to point out that they are reflecting the likeness of God. It’s important to appreciate how others reflect the likeness of God. When we can see the image of God in others, we have a better chance of valuing them more highly. God values all of the people he has created, and we should too!
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