What follows is a guest post from my good friend Eliot Delorme.
When you think about the image of God, what comes to your mind? Maybe you think about your calling to be like God or maybe your identity as a creature of creativity and community. But one thing we should think about, maybe even primarily, when we hear “Imago Dei,” is love. I had never made this connection until one week ago.
It was early in the morning. I was as happy as I’d ever remember being, and what I lacked in sleep was more than made up for with strength from an unconquerable happiness. I sipped hot coffee and read Genesis in a hushed voice to my newborn baby boy, my firstborn, as his mother and my beloved Bride got some well-earned sleep in our room. He was 11 hours old, and I slept very little during the night because I couldn’t stop staring at my beautiful boy and wanted to hold him any chance I could get. He has my nose, eyes, and lips, and my wife’s chin and cheeks. I read to him in the family room, and slowly rocked his rolling basinet back and forth in the quiet of the warm spring morning light peeking through the windows overlooking Minneapolis. I tried to read with a soothing voice and cadence to calm my beloved son, but when I came to verse 26, I broke down in tears. The verse reads, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” God chose to make mankind in his image; he didn’t have to do that. So why did he? To understand that, let’s take a step back. I love my son more than any other child in the world. And I love him like that because he is flesh of my flesh, made in my likeness. From the first time I laid eyes on him and every time since it feels as if my heart explodes with love for him. At each glance, love, too powerful for words, washes over me.
Is this how God felt about Adam and Eve? I think so! Though totally distinct from God their Father, they had his likeness, his image. God saw his children in the untainted garden, he walked in the cool of the garden to find them and see them and rejoice in them. This pure image in man was ruined when they ate the fruit and rebelled against God their Father. Shame and guilt and filth entered the soul of man and distorted that image. The Father now felt grief and righteous anger towards the ones who abused his abundant kindness. But praise be to Christ who gives sinners his perfect image for those who are in him and restores us into the image of God in sanctification. The audible voice of God is rarely found recorded in the gospels, but of the times that he is recorded as speaking, his favorite thing to say is, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” When God looks at his Son, he bubbles over, as it were, with love and delight in him and that joy manifests in the heavenly declaration of love. He sings over his son with delight. The Father’s love and delight is also towards you who are in Christ. This is foundational to what it means to be in Christ, to be loved with the same love that God has for his Son!
Child of God, do you regularly set your mind on this thought, “God loves me. He actually loves me! He thinks about me with deep fatherly pleasure. He wants to have fellowship with me. He knows all my dirt, sin and weaknesses and that doesn’t make him flinch in his love for me because of Christ’s once for all work.” Do you think like that? If you don’t, you should; it is your inheritance in Christ. To know this love of the Father in Jesus by the power of the Spirit is fullness of life, it is eternal life! This type of love sets free the prisoner, it anchors through trial, it gives courage to the faint-hearted, and it quiets the sinner’s soul.
Believer, does your mental image of God accord with Scripture’s picture of him being a loving Father? If not, revisit this truth, that you are made and restored into the image of God as a beloved child. So listen. Listen closely, and you’ll hear the song of delight being sung over you.