The picture of God is a multifaceted picture shrouded in mystery. His image is more on display in the image He made us in (Gen. 1:27). He made us like Him, but what does that look like? What does it mean to be “in the Image of God”? For one, what we look like now is a pale comparison to those He created in the garden.
Having recently studied several different worldviews (including existentialism), it seems a lot of presuppositions have covertly migrated into a large portion of our present society’s mentality. Terms like “you what you make yourself”, “You are the sum your actions”, or Aristotle’s famous original quote, “You are what you repeatedly do”. These are subtle statements attempting to redefine earlier foundation. Most intriguingly, this mentality has crept into a Christian paradigm, with such states as: “God helps those who help themselves”. While this appears to be very free-will centric, and even linked into a Biblical narrative, “For the Lord disciplines whom He loves…” Prov. 3:12 (See also Heb. 12:6, Rev. 3:19). The problem is that the nature of this theistic existentialism worldview is it is not centered around God, while acknowledging virtually everything a monotheistic Christian does doctrinally. It is focused on the nature of man, and it looks to God as a means to an end.
Historically, this has led to acts of personal or corporate justification. It has inspired the rationality of the seemingly merciless killing of millions of Jews, massive profusely intense labor camps, famines, and the like. It has brought out the ideology of Marxism, communism, and fascism, among others. In short, it has brought about more then just a “self-governed mentality” – it has brought about a “self-made man” mentality. It has produced the “dog eat dog world”, it has propagated the “survival of the fittest” concept. What is most concerning however, is that those who may claim such ideals are not whole-heartedly committed to the full-scale worldview. They are pluralistic – they adopt a diversity of beliefs that tend to fit their experience.
The picture of God is one of stability. It is a picture of a being who is committed. He does not stop reaching out with a love. That may be a correctional love, or it may be a redemptive love, or redemption may have to come through pain. The picture of God is also one of relationship. Several points in Scripture lead to a perception of God as three individual persons in one (Gen. 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Jn. 1:1, 10: 30, 14; 10:30; 14:16; 15:26; 1 Cor. 8:6; Phil. 2:5-8)
It is this same image engraved into our hearts (Eccl. 3:11), and we have a picture of that Perichoresis (Greek meaning “rotation”) nature of God by entering into deep relationship. Predominantly, we think of marriage, and this is perhaps the greatest picture, since there is family that is externally acknowledged in it. But there is certainly also a picture of intimacy found inside of friendship. There is a place of shelter, wisdom, and joy that may be found among close friends.
What else might this “imago Dei” mean? Some think it refers to our essence of being. There is an age-old argument of nature vs. nurture, and by this is often meant that either man is born with certain innate traits, or that man learns thee traits as he grows. This is simple a hermeneutical matter of personal doctrine determination. I dear not lead anyone down a path of influence when they may find their place themselves. But nonetheless, man consists of heart, soul, mind and strength. Life is experienced, and perceptions of God are arrived at, and it has been my assessment that God has left a lingering idea of Himself in every culture. Genesis 11 records the story of language separation and the crossroads out from the Tower of Babel. From this communication-rich single culture, stories of the first man and women would have been passed down by word-of-mouth. Stories of man walking and talking with the Creator in the cool of the day. Every nation, tribe and tongue has some recent or ancient remnant of the truth originally prepared for us at the time of creation.
This just like the character represented of Yahweh in the Judeo-Christian Bible. He is about giving all an opportunity to find meaning, truth, hope, joy, and life in their local, native environment and tongue. One thing that has stood out in Scripture is stories of individuals. God walking with individual people to take the adventure that could be theirs (Gen. 32:26). Each has a capacity for greatness, and perhaps one the greatest tragedies in the history of the world is people slipping “into the fray”, rather then rising up to reveal something in their hearts they want to see in the world that is genuinely unique. Something that restores a picture of deep beauty of the Creator.