What does it mean to be made in the image of God?
Growing up, I would reverse the answer to this question by thinking, "Well, if I have two ears, two eyes, a nose, and a mouth, then God must have two ears, two eyes, a nose, and a mouth." Being made in God's image ultimately meant that God must look like me. God must have the ability to hear, see, smell, and talk.
God Exists In Community
I still believe that Scripture teaches that God has these attributes, but I also believe that by focusing on whether or not God has human senses, I missed an even greater truth about God; God exists in community. God exists as three persons-in-one -being; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christians call this idea of God the doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinity is introduced in Scripture at the very beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters, and the Son (according to John 1.3) said, “Let there be light.” God, three persons-in-one-being, was from the very beginning.
What Does Being Made in the Image of A Communal God Mean for Us?
It means that at the very core of being made in God’s image is the truth that we are made or hard-wired for community. More specifically, we are hard-wired to be in community with God and community with one another. In John 15, Jesus told his disciples to “remain in my love” (community with God) and to also “love one another as I have loved you” (community with one another). We cannot and will not reflect the image of God unless we are dwelling or being in community with God and others.
What Happens When We Do Not Dwell in Community?
When we do not dwell in community with others, we live a life that is off. Think about the great theological movie, Toy Story. Toy Story is all about community; Woody must wrestle to understand what it means to unconditionally accept others and Buzz Lightyear must learn to live in the reality of being a toy. As Woody wrestles to accept Buzz, he loses his community. As Buzz wrestles with what it means to be a toy, he learns the value of community. The movie poetically ends with Woody and Buzz being reunited with Andy and that great song, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” playing in the background. Community for Woody was regained and community for Buzz was embraced.
When we do not live in community, we find ourselves like Woody or Buzz, feeling lonely or disconnected from God and one another. Where are you communally? Are you remaining in Jesus’ love? Are you in community with others? If not, take an extra minute today to say a prayer to God or walk across the yard and say “hello” to your neighbor. You are hard-wired for community. Live in it!
Paul is the husband to Tara, father to Natalie and Isaac, has an average jump shot, and enjoys running. His secret wish is to one day become a Jedi Knight. Paul holds a doctorate in marriage and family counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and currently serves as senior pastor of Harrodsburg Baptist Church. Paul desires to help young couples navigate the early crucibles of marriage, especially when one or both of the spouses are engaged in vocational ministry.