When God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26), He signified that He Himself is a God of relationships. And He created us in His own likeness so that we could enter into a relationship with Him.
God, Himself has never existed as a single, lonely, solitary, or “cut off” individual. Rather, He has always existed in the fullness of family-like being (Ephesians 3:14, 15: “Father . . . of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named”).
And when God made us in His image, He, therefore, made us as persons—that is, He made us for having relationships, particularly with Him.
It is impossible to separate this truth from the fact that man is an ethical creature. All true relationships have ethical ramifications. And it is at this point that God’s attributes come into play—marred through our moral and ethical sense maybe because of humanity’s fall into sin. We still know right from wrong in a basic sense. Even the most determined atheists still understand the concept of virtue and the need for morality. In fact, an inherent aspect of true humanity is moral sensibility. We know instinctively that there is a difference between good and evil.
And all of this is what makes us distinct from the rest of creation. It pertains first of all to the invisible part of man—the spirit. It is what makes us spiritual beings. It’s the part of our being human that scientists will never find in our DNA. It is not programmed into our chromosomes. It is spiritual. And it is that true personhood that makes us like God, even in our fallen state.
Physically, we are made of earthly elements—the dust of the earth. And our bodies will eventually return to dust. That is not like God. But our personhood is eternal—and that does make us made in God's image. The seat of God’s image is therefore found in our essential beings.
That is not to suggest that our bodily form is utterly devoid of anything relevant to the divine image. The image of God extends to everything in which the nature of man surpasses that of all other species of animals.
Man’s very posture, standing upright, distinguishes him from four-footed beasts and creeping things. The animals’ natural posture directs their gaze downward, toward the earth. Man, on the other hand, is naturally positioned to look upward, toward the heavens, where he can contemplate the glory of God displayed there. This is one of many ways the glory of God is displayed even in the physical makeup of our race.
Our tongues, with their ability to form words and speak in meaningful language, also reflect our likeness to God.
Even our faces, with their naturally expressive eyes and a host of meaningful expressions, are especially suited for relationships. So while the human body itself is neither the seat nor the primary expression of the image of God in man, even the body is specially made so that it can serve as a vehicle through which that image is revealed.
Henry Morris has written:
We can only say that, although God Himself may have no physical body, He designed and formed man’s body to enable it to function physically in ways in which He Himself could function even without a body. God can see (Genesis 16:13), hear (Psalm 94:9), smell (Genesis 8:21), touch (Genesis 32:32), and speak (2 Peter 1:18), whether or not He has actual physical eyes, ears, nose, hands, and mouth. . .
. There is something about the human body, therefore, which is uniquely appropriate to God’s manifestation of Himself, and (since God knows all His works from the beginning of the world—Acts 15:18), He must have designed man’s body with this in mind.
He knew, of course, that in the fullness of time even He would become a man. In that day, He would prepare a human body for His Son (Hebrews 10:5; Luke 1:35) and it would be “made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7), just as man had been made in the likeness of God.
It was not only Adam who bore the image of God, but the woman did, too—as well as all their offspring. This fact is reflected in Genesis 1:26: “Let Us make man in Our image . . . ; and let them rule”.
The truth that humanity was made in the likeness of God is the starting point for a biblical understanding of the nature of man. It explains our spiritual urges. It helps us make sense of the human conscience. It establishes our moral accountability. It reveals the very essence of the meaning and purpose of human life. It is full of practical and doctrinal significance.
Yet the religion of evolution wants to utterly erase this truth from the collective consciousness of the human race. That is why the battle against evolutionary theories is one that Christians cannot afford to abandon. Because life is not pointless. People are not cosmic accidents produced by time and chance.
And primaeval slime is not in our ancestry. All of us are direct descendants of Adam and Eve, created in God’s image, made to know—and be known by—our loving Creator. That is why we are here and why we are called to preach the gospel of reconciliation with God.
Enjoy building relationships.