Or maybe not…
Today we’ve explored the concept of imago Dei and learned that we still bear the image of God even in our fallen state. But what does this mean for us? What are the practical implications of our being made in God’s image?
In Matthew 5 Jesus tells us to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? … You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
This exhortation makes little sense on first reading. Who loves their enemies? And who can be perfect? But when we read it with the imago Dei in mind, it suddenly becomes clear.
If we are created to reflect God, it follows that we would “be perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect.” While we will never fully achieve this goal on this side of Heaven, it makes perfect sense that we would strive to live out our nature as God’s image bearers, by being perfect as God is and loving as he does.
Moreover, if our fellow humans are created in God’s image, if they bear in them a reflection of God Almighty, then they deserve our love, affection, and respect. Even if they are our enemies, they still bear the imago Dei and are to be treated accordingly.
Found in this second point is a lesson for those who struggle with self-worth. So often we base our value on our achievements and accomplishments, the approval of others, our appearance, or any number of other things that cannot bear up under this pressure, but these are not what give us worth.
God is supreme. He is more glorious, more valuable, more honorable, more beautiful and just plain better than anything else. And we are made in His image. What could possibly give us more value than that? If we are modeled after the best, created in the image of that which has no equal, what could possibly supersede that as the foundation of our worth?
It doesn’t matter whether I’m good enough, smart enough, or people like me. Our value is found in the reality that our very nature is a reflection of the Divine.