"So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27).
When God first spoke, God spoke in relationship. These words, “Let us make humankind in our image,” are words that have evolved into the doctrine of the Trinity. The divine dance of God, ever loving and being loved. To be created in God’s image first means: We are people together, never alone. God said as much in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good that the human should be alone; I will make this one a helper, a partner.”
But then we quickly move into the dark days of scripture, from the forbidden fruit to murder of Abel to the wars that make people so renowned as to be called “Sons of God”. The killing of people brings God to grief and causes the Flood of tears that wipes out most of humanity. When the waters recede, God tells Noah, “Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed; for in God’s own image humans were made” (Genesis 9:6). From this ban on killing, even in war it seems, we can tell that to be human is to be precious to God. Each of us are valuable, irreplaceable, worthy of life because of how we were made. God is not willing that the divine image should ever be destroyed.
St. Paul takes this further. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). To be a Christian, a reborn human, isn’t simply to contain God’s image, but to contain God’s living and breathing Spirit. But the Holy Spirit doesn’t just simply live in us like we live in our homes; the Spirit uses our bodies to worship and praise God. To be born again is to have our whole bodies become expressions of love toward God.
In Galatians 3:26-28, Paul says that we are reborn children of God, united as one in Christ Jesus. Back in 1 Corinthians 12, he calls us the body of Christ. The place where God’s work enters the world is through our hands. We are the ones who are called to do those things the prophets identify as worship: Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly. To be reborn a child of God is to have our whole bodies united together, one with another, as expressions of God’s love to the world. We aren’t simply the image of God anymore. Together, we are the living presence of Christ.
The Psalmist says in psalm 139:14, “I praise you, for I am beautifully and wonderfully made.” But that’s much too small of a description of what it means to be a human, to be a Christian. We praise you, God Almighty, for we are beautifully and wonderfully made, created together as partners to be the realization of your great love for the world, to be the presence of your whole heart here on earth; more than a static image, a living embodiment of Christ our Savior. Amen.