This week I am going back to where it all started, Imago Dei. If you have seen the Latin titles and do not really understood what they mean, let me explain it to you. I preached a sermon on Imago Dei a couple of years ago and it had a great impact on me. I found myself using it practically in my life on a regular basis. If someone cut me off driving or I got cussed out at church (believe it or not, it happens often at Under Over Fellowship), I found myself saying, “Imago Dei.” This was a reminder to myself that this person, in spite of their behavior, was made in the Image of God and I needed to treat them as such. This was so powerful in my life, I found myself asking, “What other principles can I put into action to put legs on my faith and discipleship?” And not only that, “Can I develop it in such a way that I can teach it to others?” So that is where I am. I have four weeks to go on my current writing project, but I thought it might be good to go back to the beginning so readers would have a better understanding where I am coming from. I will be posting all six days of Imago Dei this week, and then plan to return with new material next week.
PART ONE OF SIX
Imago Dei: What does this mean? I will first say this about Imago Dei; these are two Latin words that can change our lives if we will just let them, or more importantly, let God. I am going to tell you how, but first I want to set a foundation.
Genesis 1 is very rich in theology. The chapter starts by saying, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” and goes on to describe God’s six workdays. God created everything in the universe, Ex Nihilo, which is Latin for “out of nothing.” He created day and night the first day, the sky and the sea the second day, land and vegetation on day three, the stars, the sun, and the moon on day four, and sea creatures and birds on day five.
Then we come to day six; first God created animals. God then said, “Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness.” Imago Dei is first mentioned and in the Latin means having the image or likeness of God. I also want to point out that this is the first hint of the trinity in the Bible, when God says, “Let us make man.” Us? Who did He mean? I believe He is referring to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In the simplest terms, Imago Dei means we were made to resemble God. God gave us dominion over the animals, which sets humans apart from the animal world. We are in the image of God in our intellectual, moral, and spiritual natures. We have the ability to reason or choose. Our moral compass, or conscience, points to Imago Dei.
This is a simple definition and the Bible does not have a lot to say about Imago Dei. In fact, it is only mentioned six times in the Bible and two of them are here in Genesis 1. However, this has been a hotly debated topic for hundreds of years. There are many different theories and interpretations regarding Imago Dei. In seminary, we dealt a lot with systematic theology. This is, basically, where you take all the theories and formulate an organized theological truth on a subject.
Theologian Millard Erickson did just this concerning Imago Dei. He made several conclusions I want to share with you: 1. The Image of God is universal within the human race. Hence it applies to you and me, not just Adam. 2. The Image of God has not been lost as a result of sin or specifically the fall. 3. There is no indication that the Image of God is present in one person to a greater degree than another. 4. The Image of God is something in the very nature of humans, in the way in which we were made. 5. It refers to something a human is rather than something a human has or does. And lastly, Imago Dei involves the powers of personality that make humans, like God, capable of interaction with other persons, of thinking and reflecting, and of free will.
Having said all this and pouring a foundation for Imago Dei, I want to lay out four ways Imago Dei can greatly impact our lives and our walk with the Lord……starting tomorrow!
But just for today, meditate on this…., God said, “Let us make (insert your name) in our own image, after our likeness.”
Tune in tomorrow for Part Two..