I have some world shattering and identity shaping news for you…You are NOT the ‘image’ of God, but you are most certainly made in God’s image. Let me explain…
This is a completely unexpected blog post. I have been reading through a book that I have intended to finish and write a complete review for, but I have not yet been able to finish the book. Actually, I am still in the beginning part of the book because I stumbled upon something quite profound that has stopped me dead in my tracks! Instead of waiting until the end of this book to write an exhaustive review, I have decided to write multiple reviews for this book that focuses on some of the main points that need to be expressed. In this article, however, I will only focus on one incredible truth that simply cannot wait to be expressed!
I am currently reading ‘The Community Life Of God’ by Milt Rodriguez. The premise of this book is built upon the understanding that the Godhead (Trinity) is the model for all of our relationships. As we begin to see who God really is within Himself, the implications for our very own identity and relationships are quite profound.
Shortly after beginning this book, Milt makes the astounding assertion that we (as individual & independent human beings) are NOT the image of God. To be quite honest, This went against everything that I had been taught and assumed regarding the teaching of scripture concerning my identity as an individual human being. After reading this assertion, I thought to myself:
Doesn’t scripture say that God created male and female in His own image & likeness? (Gen. 1:27)
In this book, Milt goes on to say that while God most certainly created mankind in His image & likeness, that is very different from saying that we, independently, are the image and likeness of God. According to scripture, God only has ‘ONE’ who is His perfect image and likeness, and that ‘ONE’ is not us (as independent human beings). The person of Jesus Christ, however, is the one who is the perfect image of God! (Please re-read the last couple of sentences over again). This is a severe paradigm shift! Consider the following passages of scripture:
He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things have been created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:15-16)
Wow, did you catch that? Paul was quite clear that He (Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God! Now consider this passage as well:
In the beginning was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:1-3)
Wow, did you catch that as well? John was quite clear that all of creation was created by and through Christ, and NOT apart from Him. He (Christ) is the location in which everything (including us) was created. How beautiful.
Christ is the very image of God and the location of where everything was created!
In light of this revelation, let’s re-read Genesis 1:27:
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Christ is the image of God, and only ‘in Christ’ can we be the image of God. Apart from Him, we can NOT be the image of God. This was a monumental paradigm shift for me. Reading this reminded me that my vision of Jesus Christ was still too small. Only Christ could be the exact and perfect image of God! I had incorrectly assumed that each human being independently was the image of God. I never realized that was exactly the lie that the serpent tried to get Eve to believe.
God’s plan for man to express His image & likeness hinged upon man’s location. Our location is where we get our life. In the garden where God and man dwelled together, God put a beautiful tree there called the tree of life. Mankind had the incredible opportunity to eat of this tree and receive God’s life. This life is eternal! The serpent’s plan, however, was to distract man from the tree of life by directing man’s attention toward another tree.
This other tree that satan wanted to draw man’s attention to wasn’t just evil, it was also good. That’s why it was called the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’ The serpent convinced Eve that they could become like God by eating of this tree and receiving ‘knowledge’ they didn’t have. Although they did receive ‘knowledge’ from eating of this tree, the serpent failed to tell them that this tree was missing life. It brought death instead of God’s eternal life. Only God’s life could be eternal and that life could only be found in God’s tree of life.
Mankind was never designed to be separated from the very image & likeness of God. Mankind was the only creation of God that was designed specifically to bear God’s image & likeness by bearing & consuming God’s very own life! By consuming His life (found in the tree of life), mankind could have borne the image and likeness of God. Before mankind could eat from this tree and receive God’s eternal life however, the serpent convinced them to eat from the other tree. This tree brought about an unpleasant change in location for mankind. They were separated from the very image they were meant to live in and by. As you know, this brought about separation and death. Mankind lost access to the very location where God’s life could be found as they were kicked out of the garden where the tree of life was located.
Remember, according to Jesus, all of scripture was written about Him. This means that the very garden of Eden where God and mankind dwelled together is a picture of Jesus Christ. Since Christ is completely human, and Christ is also completely God, He is the location in which God and man perfectly dwell together. Not only is the Garden of Eden a picture of Jesus Christ, so is the Tree of Life!
Mankind was commanded to take God’s life and put that life inside of themselves by eating of the tree of life. It was not an accident when Jesus said that we would have no life inside of us unless we ate His flesh and drank His blood (John 6:53). Astounding! Christ’s life, who is the image of God, was meant to live on the inside of us!
The miracle of the cross and resurrection of Christ is that it completely removed our separation from the very image of God (Jesus Christ) that we were originally created in before sin separated us! After the death and resurrection of Christ, the New Testament describes us as being ‘in Christ’ almost two hundred times! I am convinced that the words ‘In Christ’ are two of the New Testament’s most powerful, yet most overlooked words. Incredibly, because we are now ‘in Christ’ and will never again be separated from Him (Rom. 8:38-39), we can now reflect His Image and life. This is what we were created for!
Two paradigm shifting thoughts…
In summary, I’d like to leave you with a couple of thoughts:
1. Jesus Christ is the ONLY image of God. There is no other. (Col. 1:15-16) True life begins with having an accurate vision of Him.
2. You (independently) are NOT the image of God. The fact that we were made ‘in God’s image’ is speaking of the location of our creation where God’s life can be found and consumed. Mankind was created specifically to bear God’s image and likeness by consuming His life. We were created ‘in Him’. Although we were temporarily separated, we have now been returned to our proper location ‘in’ the image of God, who is none other than Jesus Christ! It is ‘in Him’ that we live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:28).
This ‘tree of life’ (Christ Himself) is dwelling on the inside of us for us to continually feast on (Col. 1:27, Matthew 4:4) This is how we live by His life. He personally is the ‘Word’ of God that man lives by. He is our real food.
Let me encourage you to obtain a copy of Milt Rodriguez’s book, ‘The Community Life Of God’. You can obtain a copy by clicking here.