The Image of God
The first mention of “the Image of God” is found in Genesis Chapter One where we read that God created Adam, in His own Image? verse 27 says…” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” God created a beautiful world and called it “very good” and into it he placed a man and woman who carried both his image and His likeness. One may possess the image of a thing without owning the likeness. Recently I marked the anniversary of my Fathers home call to Glory, when George Greer left this scene of life for the nearer presence of His Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Many have remarked to me over the years that I was “very like my father” and in that I bear a similar resemblance to his image. I doubt very much if I am really like him, or have his likeness, since most of my characteristics and personality traits I seem to have gleaned from my Mothers side of the house and not his. Yet having said that I do whole-heartedly agree that at times I am very much like my Father.
Most of us to some greater or lesser extent will carry similar family traits to those of our Parents, its in the genes, the DNA. As Christians, God wants us to carry “His Image and Likeness”, that is why I have entitled today’s sermon,
“The Image of God”.
Why do you think that God created man in his Image? If we accept God as creator, then we must also accept that he could have created man in a different shape and image. As I have said, He did create a beautiful world and everything in that creation was good, or very good. Looking around me these days at the beauty of the countryside bathed in the summer sunshine, I have little argument with that. So in order for God to have
something special to look on, he made man so that he could see his own reflection in the mans work and ways. Adam, and his wife Eve, did carry the reflection of the Divine nature, image and likeness for some time, and no doubt God was pleased about that. But there came a day when God lost his reflection on earth? After Adams Sin, God asked “Adam where art thou?” (Gen 3:9) God did not ask the question because he could not locate Adam, rather he asked the question so that Adam could locate himself. God was saying … Adam, you are not where you were, you are not what you were, you don’t look like me any longer, you look like Sin, you look worldly, fleshy, naked and guilty! Where are you? In that moment God lost his Image on earth, and it was not until the coming of Jesus to the Manger in Bethlehem, that Gods image or likeness was restored to the planet.
The writer to the Hebrews confirms this in that he, speaking of the fact that God has at sundry times spoken to us through the prophets, has in these last days, or days of grace spoken to us through his Son, who he says is “the brightness of His Glory and the express image of His person” (Heb 1:3)
My message today is for Christians, for we must all ask ourselves who do we look like. Do we Look like God and like His Son the Lord Jesus, OR do we look like Sin and the World, Contaminated and Evil?
Image is everything today. Many in the world as well as many within the Church are concerned about their image, and so they should be, but some are concerned for the wrong reasons, – for selfish reasons? Some are concerned about their image before others, while they should be more concerned about their image before God. There is in the heart of many an ambition to climb the ladder of success.
Sadly many of those who are “well known” both in the Church
and in the world, are not “well known” to God. Many have aimed at being a successful Sunday School Teacher, a successful Choir member, a successful Musician or a successful Preacher, and getting their foot on the first rung of the ladder was important. That ambition to success was more important than those whose foot they trod on in the effort. Many have achieved such success and notoriety, and have climbed high on that ladder and are in constant demand here, there and yonder, but unfortunately it is “their” image that everyone sees on the posters or papers, in the pulpits or platforms, on the radio or TV, and not the “Image of God?”
Most of us as younger, or more immature Christians, have had to learn hard lessons on the slippery slope of self ambition. Human nature, even redeemed human nature can still be self seeking and self pleasing.
But I have discovered another ladder that we all ought to be looking for, … let me tell you about it. The Bible calls it Jacobs Ladder. In Genesis 28:12 we read: “And Jacob dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending
and descending on it”.
This is what I am calling the ladder to heaven, the ladder that leads us up to God, for those who are seeking his approval and his anointing. A ladder that makes Heaven open to us, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks in the year. It is the ladder of PRAYER. There can be no success in the Church and no success for the Christian, (in Gods sight) without it! Without Prayer it is impossible to carry the Image and likeness of God. Prayer is our most Christ-like activity. If we are regularly seeking God, regularly waiting on God, regularly
listening to God and regularly speaking for God, then we must PRAY.
I am not talking about reciting a few prayers from the Prayer book, or attending the weekly meeting for Prayer and Praise in the Church. I am talking about those who systematically pursue God in the quiet place of Prayer, who know what it is to cry tears of pain over their neglect and tears of purpose over their neighbours. Those who know how to spend hours in prayer, when there is no-one watching or waiting on them, and no one but God in their focus and frame. We get to be like the people we live with, I can see it so often in happily married couples, as I’m sure you can. So if we are going to be like God and like His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus, then we must spend time there with Him, to catch his reflection, his image, and his likeness.
Prayer gives you “the Divine Connection”
You don’t get that connection with the Divine through your Church Loyalty. Your Pastor cannot give you a Divine Connection, your Giving cannot give you a Divine Connection, Your Talents cannot give you that Divine Connection,
your Sacrifices cannot give you that Divine Connection
but your Prayers will connect you with God every single day! How are you connected to God, and is there any connection there at all?
Yet bearing all that in mind … your friends Cancer is not going to get up and walk out just because John, or Joyce, or Dick, and Dorothy prayed, … but that Cancer is going to disappear when someone resembling Jesus, reflecting the image of God walks in.
In Mark 16:v 9 we read that when …
“Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils”.
Devils are not going to leave until they see the “Image of God”
but once any Devil or Demon of Hell recognises Jesus in you or me, that devil is gone, and gone for good!
Praise God for evermore!
God is still looking for his reflection on this planet, in this town, in this countryside, in this country and in this world today. Can God find a man or woman that looks like Him … are you like your Father, am I like my Father, my heavenly Father?
So then, let us move on to the question …
What is it that grants us the Image of God and sustains that “Christ-likeness” in everything we do and are. Prayer as we know is not just a one-way process, rather it is God listening and speaking with me, and me speaking and listening to God.
A two way process. Spending time in the presence of God will have an impact on your whole way of living, and will undoubtedly impact your world. There will be things that you will begin to feel uncomfortable with. As I say regularly in my sermons, God permits things he does not always prefer. A deeper and growing communion with God will highlight those things, and we will begin to feel the same discomfort, that we know he feels and leave them off or leave them down. To carry such things is to carry unnecessary “baggage” which can only hold us back and pull us down. It is best to lay such things aside for ever and to follow Christ unhindered, unfettered and uncluttered by the world.
Isaiah the prophet encourages us to … “Seek the LORD while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near:” Isaiah 55:6 This implies, does it not, that there are times when the Lord may not be near? We must be careful that by walking with the world, or in sympathy or empathy with sin, we do not hinder God from walking with us. For those who would bear His Image, it is time to seek the Lord, time to leave the worlds side, time to abandon the things that make us look like Sin – and time to get back in step with God. So many believers are walking the world like sinful beggars, when they should be ruling the world like Kings and Princes with Christ.
There are many who regularly attend Church on Sunday, but of whom it is hard to believe are Christian on Monday? They think like the world, judge like the world, hoard like the world, talk like the world, laugh with the world, and live for the world. Their Image is all about the world, they have a social image, a political image, a cultural image, an academic image, a professional image, or a neighbourhood image. Every decision they make, every penny they spend, every hour they work, and every rule they break is about self, and never about others?
To carry the Image of God is about putting others first.
There was not a “selfish” bone in the body of our Lord Jesus, everything He said and did, was to the benefit and good of others. Always He spoke with honesty which brought conviction and challenge to those who listened to him, but it was for their own good. Always he spoke with love and tenderness where he could justifiably have spoken in anger. He did not speak up for himself when he was being flogged and beaten and prepared for the Cross, but in silence he took your sins and mine and paid the price we owed. He did not save his own skin, but he saved mine. This loving nature, loving others more than self – is reflecting the image of God.
Then what can I say about giving? God is a Giver, not a Grabber. Many are constantly striving for more, a bigger house, a bigger car, a bigger cruise, a bigger bank balance … continually grabbing at more. Even within the Church there are those who have not as yet surrendered their Bank Account over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and the very idea of doing so is an anathema to them. God has blessed them and prospered them and they lack for nothing, but they just cannot see that Gods blessing is for a blessing. God blesses them, so that they might become a blessing to others. If you have more than you need, then you have more than your should. And if you don’t give it, God will take it from you, or take you from it. If you don’t believe me then look at the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira in Acts chapter Five, who as Christians took more than they needed, took selfishly, and God took them away from it.
Remember Jesus has commanded us “Lay not up for yourselves treasure on earth” it’s not an option – but an obligation … and while I believe in providing a “cushion” for a hard knock, there is a great difference between a “cushion” and a “bed”. If we are depending and relying on some comfortable nest-egg, then we are not relying on God. The Financially Blessed Christian walking in the Image and Likeness of God, will never ask, what new car can I get next year, rather they will ask, what new car can I give away next week? God is always asking what can I give, and if I am to reflect his Image and likeness, then the same question must constantly be on my mind and on my lips … what can I give God today? I thank God for those in my life who truly reflect the image of God, they are always giving, and looking for new ways to give. That’s God in them!
Only those with a Divine Connection, will act like the Divine.
Climb that ladder of Prayer and get close to the heart of God and before long, God will give you HIS heart, and you will start to give like God gives, “good measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing” and start to love like God loves, loving all and even loving the unlovely. For God not only likes them but He loves them!
Sooner or later the image and likeness of God will rub off on us and to the world around us. Jesus could say, “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father” because he reflected the Father in everything he was, and in everything He did there was
that Divine Connection.
I remember as a small child that there were times when I would feel frightened or threatened by other adults who came to the house or called to do business with my Father. In those moments of immature fear, I would climb up on Fathers knee and sit there enfolded in his arms, safe and sound and at peace. Climbing the ladder – Jacobs ladder of Prayer, and being enfolded in Gods keeping, I often find there that same peace, in fact an even greater peace. I have come to the realization that those who live close to God in Prayer understand this peace, and are never fearful or fretful. There is a calmness which cannot be disturbed, a serenity that cannot be displaced, and a quietness of character that cannot be dismantled. DHG
The more time you spend in the Fathers presence, the less the world can distract and disturb you.
I can hear him whisper in my ear “Peace – be Still“.
Something of the Father always rubs off on the Child. We read in Genesis 5:3 that “Adam lived 130 years and begat a son in his likeness after his image and called his name Seth”. God wants his image to pass down through the generations, the Divine DNA to perpetuate the race and the gene of the generations to come. Did you know that there is much of you in your Children, they too carry your Image and likeness. Look at them …. can’t you see yourself in them at times, can’t your hear your words form in their mouths? What are you passing on to them? You can influence them in right ways or in wrong ways.
Many youngsters will lie a lot because their parents tell lies. Many will steal, because their parents fiddle with their finances, many will grow up to mirror the self same mess in their house – that their parents created at home?
I thank God today, from the bottom of my heart for Godly and Christian Parents. Both my Father and my Mother loved the Saviour and their influence in my life was a real blessing and of both earthly and heavenly value. If I bear any resemblance today to Jesus Christ, it is because I was raised at the heart of a Prayerful and Godly Home. God promises to bless the “seed” of the righteous, and if you love the Saviour today, His blessing will be resting on your off-spring, even though they may not know it or feel it. They are in a favoured and privileged position because of your Faith and your walk with God! Yet ask God earnestly that they might always look more like HIM than they do YOU.
NOW THIS FINAL WORD
The story is told of a young Preacher who was becoming ever increasingly heart-broken over the Lawlessness and Godlessness of his city and country. Tearfully He prayed: Lord “turn the tide of this nation, back to God; turn the tide Lord…”
Nothing happened immediately, but he became aware that the Holy Spirit was turning that prayer back on him and saying:
“You turn the tide.”
He allowed the thought to linger for a while and then he set to making a study of the term “turning the tide.” To his surprise he discovered that contrary to his beliefs, the Sun does not control the tides, but the Moon. It is the Moon, when it is properly aligned with the Sun, accurately and effectively
reflecting the image and glory of the Sun, that causes the ebb and flow of the tides around the world. He began to see that when we as Christians, are properly aligned with God, nothing in between us, nothing effecting our ability to reflect His very Glory and Power, then reflecting the image of God,
WE too can turn the tide, any tide!
Believe me today, if you can lay hold of this revelation, it will transform your world. But first, … climb the ladder of Prayer, and get into the habit of sitting with God, Loving Him, Living for Him, Reflecting His Love, His grace, and His Peace, then suddenly you will begin to see tides turn, folks change,
and souls saved.
May God bless this Divinely Connected word to all our Hearts.
For His Great Glory; Amen