We live in a world that asks a lot of questions about identity – we define ourselves by our race, gender, sexual orientation; even by our jobs. These are personal matters close to our hearts, and every person (religious or not) asks themselves, “Who am I?” at some point in their life.
In the Book of Genesis, it says that, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created Him; male and female He created them.” The Heidelberg Catechism (a document used to instruct children in the Christian faith) says that when the Bible talks about man being created in the image of God, it means that we resemble God in His righteousness and holiness.
We were created to reflect God’s character (His holiness and knowledge), so that we can love and live for Him.
How does the fact that we’re image-bearers affect how we live today? First, we’re mindful that people of all ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, and social classes also bear God’s image, and are therefore worthy of our love and respect. We aren’t to value people because they value us, or because they’re famous or good people themselves; we’re to value them because they are created by God in His image for His glory, just as we are.
Every person – the disabled, the elderly, the unborn child and the poor – has inherent dignity as an image bearer of God. When there is an assault of any kind (social, sexual, racial, etc.) against an image bearer, it is ultimately an assault against God Himself.
Second, we’re comforted by the knowledge that no matter what happens to us – whether we lose our job, our health or our social status – we don’t have to prove ourselves as valuable members of society. We know who we are, and why we’re important. We’re creatures made by and for a holy God, and our lives matter because we bear His image.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in identifying ourselves by temporal categories that the world values. But when we remember that our value and worth aren’t found in cultural associations and net income, we’re relieved of the burden of trying to prove ourselves as worthy people and comforted by the assurance that we’re incredibly valuable to the one who created us.