Created in partnership with The Gospel Coalition, Imago Dei examines the image of God biblically within the grand narrative of Scripture, relationally as it applies to ourselves and others, and missionally in our service to others and in our obedience to the Great Commission.
In this video excerpt from the study, Dr. Russell Moore explains what it means to actively image God.
The video is above and the complete manuscript is below.
When we’re dealing with the question of the image of God, sometimes that can be confusing to people who are accustomed to maybe hearing this sort of language but wonder What does the Bible even mean when it says image?
I think that Genesis 1 and 2, talking about male and female created in the image of God, is then explained and defined by literally the entire rest of Scripture. And so when we’re talking about people being created in the image of God, I think that the language of “icon” is useful. Not only in the sort of religious sense that we’re accustomed to seeing it used, but even in popular culture. We think of something as an icon of whatever, meaning something that represents something else, something beyond that person or beyond that thing.
I think that’s true for human beings. Human beings are created to picture God and God’s care for, God’s love of, God’s rule over, the rest of creation in a way that is to be recognized. And to be recognized even by—I think the Scripture teaches—by the inanimate creation in ways that sometimes it’s hard for us to even understand.
So when, for instance, in Romans 8, the apostle Paul says that the creation groans for the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19), there is a sense in which humanity is distinct because of the way that we picture and image God. And there’s been a disruption in the recognition of that because of sin that’s being restored and reclaimed by the gospel.
When we’re thinking about the image of God, we’re talking about dignity, but we’re also talking about responsibility. And so sometimes people will say, well, that’s really dangerous if you see this distinction between humanity and the rest of the world because that means that human beings, because we’re special—created in the image of God—that we can just do whatever we want to with the rest of creation. That’s not, first of all, the kind of god that we’re created to image. God does not treat the creation in a pharaoh-like way.
But also because our calling is to image God, not only with just raw power, but with a power that is directed toward cultivation. And so you’re to keep the garden, God says to Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:15), and then to carry that task out to the rest of the world, which doesn’t mean dominating. It means careful stewardship and cultivation over the rest of the world. When we do that, then we’re imaging God.