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Restoring the Image of God

• Greg Boyd

Greg talked this morning about the overwhelming significance of humanity being made in the image of God. If we will understand and live in the knowledge of this reality, we will experience profound healing.

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Greg talked this morning about the overwhelming significance of humanity being made in the image of God. If we will understand and live in the knowledge of this reality we will experience profound healing.

Genesis 1:26-27 provides the biblical basis for this idea: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion’…So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” For God to create us in his image means that we are created with incredible dignity and worth. However, we often feel worthless and insignificant. The words of David in Psalm 22:6 express this: “I am a worm, and not a human…”

If we are made in the image of God, we might wonder, “What characterizes God?” Greg shared that God is an outrageous lover of people, and the expression of this love exhibits greatness. In Isaiah 66:1, we see the grandeur of God through the word picture of heaven as God’s throne, and the earth as his footstool. In Genesis 1 and 2 we see that God is the one who creates us, breathes life into us, and provides for us. This is further amplified when we consider that the God who established the moon and all the stars has made us a little lower than himself, crowning us with glory and honor. He invites us to participate in the rule and care of this world (Psalm 8:3-6). In contrast to ancient civilizations that imaged God through man made idols, our very being expresses the image of God. The bottom line is that we are made for greatness, honor, and glory. In fact, Genesis 1:26 and Psalm 8:6 illustrate that we are to co-rule with God. That’s one reason why prayer is so important for the believer, because in that act we are agreeing with God to accomplish his will “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

What is fundamentally true about us is that we are made in God’s image. What is also true is that by our willful rebellion of God we have surrendered our dignity, becoming enslaved to sin. However, Jesus Christ came to free us from this bondage. By the power of his love expressed through his death on the Cross, we are restored to God’s original intention for us.

Although accepting Christ’s gift of salvation fundamentally restores our dignity as being made in the image of God, our whole life is a process of further manifesting this reality. Greg stated that healing is another way to describe this process of living more fully in the truth of being in God’s image. We learn in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 that this healing involves the three basic dimensions of life: spirit, soul, and body.

First, Jesus heals us from the sin that plagues our spirit. In 1 Peter 2:24, we are reminded that Jesus has not only broken the penalty of sin, but also its power. Those things in our past that did not honor God, no longer have the ability to wield power over us. Jesus has effectively broken any authority that this sin previously had over us. The question for us to consider is, “How long will we let the Enemy keep us condemned for our past sins?” It need not be like this because God has provided the remedy in Christ. Second, God heals us from the emotional scars that inflict our soul. The soul, which Greg defined as our “conscious personality,” is bombarded daily with messages that deny our inherent worth as imagers of God. Perhaps a degrading comment on the playground, or a parent’s never ending criticism might have caused these emotional wounds. Instead of living in the truth of our dignity and worth, we allow the muck of other people’s comments to define us. Greg asked, “When did you get the message that you were a nobody?” Like we saw previously, God through Jesus Christ provides the healing prescription. In John 8:32, 36 we see that by understanding the truth, the truth makes us free. This gift from Jesus makes us truly free. We must consciously focus on the fact that God defines us, not other people. Third, God heals us from the physical hardships that infect our body. Yet, in this transitional period between Christ’s death and his return, sickness, pain, and death will persist. Greg acknowledged that there are many variables within reality that make it difficult to pinpoint why some prayers are answered, and others are not. Nevertheless, Greg encouraged us to live in the truth that God can (and does) heal the physical body (e.g. Acts 10:38).

Greg closed by reiterating the incredible worth that characterizes us as persons made in the image of God. We must realize that we compliment the Creator when we live in the glory that he has created for us to manifest. Through God’s love, we can reclaim his gift to us. How much did God want to restore us to our original purpose? He desired it so much that “for the sake of the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (Hebrews 12:2). The process of manifesting the reality of our incredible worth as human beings will bring healing into all areas of our life. Will we come to Jesus? Will we trust his word when he says we have incredible worth and dignity? Will we believe that he is able to bring healing to all areas of our life?

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Focus Scripture:

  • Genesis 1:26-27

    26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

    27 So God created human beings in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

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