By Melissa McLaughlin

An Artist’s Image

I love to gaze upon the beauty of an inspired piece of art. My husband is an artist and I enjoy pausing to reflect on his work for long stretches of time. The dynamic colors, the flowing brushstrokes, the composition of objects in the foreground and background, the images and feelings that are captured and expressed. I am truly in awe of artists’ abilities to communicate deep emotions and thoughts through visual art forms.

My husband has painted some pieces which include flowers or landscapes that reflect the glory of God’s magnificent creation. Though at times we walk right past the sunflower growing by the fence post without a second glance, when an artist presents this common flower in a painting, we stop in stillness and wonder at the grandeur it exudes.

However, despite the unique gifts and great efforts of the most talented artist, none can truly capture all the splendor of the flower, for no living object can be fully expressed by a non-living replica.

Made in the Image of God

When I marvel at reality of humankind, being made “Imago Dei”, Latin for made in the “Image of God”, I think how this is so like the artwork which reflects the living flower.

In Genesis 1, we read that, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. After forming all the living things upon the earth, God created mankind, as recorded here in Genesis 1:27, So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.

Some Biblical scholars maintain that we bear the image of God in a variety of ways, through our inborn moral sense or conscience, our desire for social connection and our mental ability to reason and choose between right and wrong. Others assert we are physically made in God’s image, for His original intent was for humankind to live in the Garden of Eden with Him forever.

The Image is Marred

Ultimately, like all of creation, we were created to reflect the glory of God. Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden, when mankind chose to rebel against God and His rule, our image has been marred. We do not reflect the glory of God, as our sin-nature desires to turn away from God and His good plans for us.

We prefer to make God in our own image. Declaring our word, our thoughts and our desires over God’s eternal truth and powerful Word, the Bible.

From the first moment Satan tempted mankind by twisting God’s Word, we continue to battle this twisting of His Word today, in an attempt to make God in our image.

But. For. Jesus.

The Image Restored

Jesus, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. Jesus the One whose appearance was “marred” beyond recognition.

Isaiah 52:13-15 – See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness— so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.

In Jesus’ life laid down, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords let His holy blood pour out to atone for our sins, that we could be born again of the Spirit. In my article, How Do We Enter God’s Rest, we considered how Jesus’ sacrifice moves us from rest to rest. From the rest in the Garden of Eden to rest in heaven.

Here we see how Jesus’ work on the cross sets us on a course from image to image. Once we believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord, we begin the slow journey of being re-made in the image of Christ.

To Bear the Image of the Man of Heaven

As explained by C.S. Lewis, a sculptor may carve a breathtakingly beautiful and lifelike statue of a young boy that he adores for its grace and detail. However, if this same sculptor then gives birth to his own son, born of his own flesh and blood, how much more intensely would he love his own child. The sculpture was merely created and formed by the work of his hands. But the child was born of him, coming from himself, embodying a part of himself. One created by him, the other born of him.

When we believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord, we are born again of His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is sent to indwell the hearts of all who believe that Jesus rose from the dead and confess Him as LORD.

2 Corinthians 3:18 – And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

We were first formed of dust, like the first man Adam. We are now born of the Spirit of God like, Jesus. Instead of simply going from dust to dust, we are now being transformed from image to image.

This profound verse takes my breath away:

1 Corinthians 15:49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Let that sink in.

We once bore the image of the man of dust, Adam. And now we are bearing the image of the man of heaven, Jesus.

God Himself,

sent His own Son,

marring His own image,

to restore us

to the divine image of God

which we were created to bear.

Oh Jesus,

Savior and Lord,

Holy One of Israel,

friend of sinners,

may we bear your image well.

Genesis 1:27 – So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Colossians 1:15 – He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Colossians 3:10 – Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Ephesians 4:24 – Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

1 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

1 John 3:1-3 – See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

To Bear the Image of the Man of Heaven
Painting ©Tom McLaughlin

Additional Resources:

Bearing the Cross by Bettie GsRAseasons

From Clay to Heaven – Be Amazed by Your God! By Melissa McLaughlin

All Things New – Poem by Melissa McLaughlin

He Restores My Soul – By Melissa McLaughlin

Inspiring this Article – The Hope of God’s Image Bearers – Sermon by Sinclair Ferguson