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Pastoral Reflections column: 'Image-Bearers'

The Bible says in Genesis 1:26-27 that you and I are made in the image of God.

"Then God said, let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." vs. 27: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

Not only are we created male and female in his image, but we are also loved by God with an everlasting love. This has some wonderful consequences:

• My identity is secure and grounded in the fact that I am made in God's image. Do you understand that the greatest thing about you is not your dynamic personality or your great looks? The greatest thing, the most unique thing about you is that you are an image-bearer! You were created to reflect and represent God on this earth. You do that by relating with God and with others in ways that reflect and represent him well. We call it Christ-likeness. We are not on the planet just to make money and achieve great feats or accomplishments or simply seek comfort. We are here to be image-bearers.

• Knowing I'm an image-bearer determines how I value life — all life. From the womb to the very old. It helps me understand that every person has value — not because of race or social status or even ability, but because they were made in the image of God. The image of God is stamped on every person. It's like the value of a coin — it's not the metal that gives it value, it's the image stamped on it that gives it value.

• The way I treat others. When we understand that I am made in God's image and that he loves me the way I am, it brings a tremendous security. I can love myself as God made me and it frees me to love others. We begin to see each person the way God sees them — with intrinsic and infinite value. This is radical and yet it is the way Jesus loved and the way God intended us to love from the beginning.

Jesus said to his disciples, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34) He was seeking to restore God's original vision for why we were made.

So be an image-bearer and live a life of love just as Christ did!