More than once I’ve had folks ask me about what is meant when we are said to be made in the image of God. After, God is a spirit, not a physical body, so how can we say we are made in His image?
Generally I will say that we are the only creatures that can have a relationship with God and so therefore we must be in some way in His image. Cats do not relate to God. Pigs do not relate to God. Kangaroos do not relate to God. Only people.
However, I had another thought this week while reading a book by Robert Sherman called Covenant, Community, and the Spirit. Early in the work Sherman writes about the relationship between the Persons of the Trinity and how we have been made by God for life in community. Now Sherman doesn’t connect the points like this but it occurred to me that being created for community by a God who is one God of three Persons, who has always and ever been in communion within Himself, gives us another definition of being made in the image of God.
I am told a growing number of people profess Christianity but want nothing to do with the organized Church. I have never understood this idea personally, but after thinking about our call to community as being a part of being made in the image of our Creator, I find myself very hostile toward such a view of a life of faith. It is contrary to our creation and, indeed, it is contrary to the Word of God found in the Scriptures.
The Lord has said it is not good for us to be alone. We generally think of that in terms of marriage, but it is also true about living the Christian life. Outside the embodied Church we are alone in a hostile world and our faith will be tried and tested over and again with no support from other believers. That’s a very hard life to live, especially since it really isn’t who we are.