We are image bearers.
Spend any time at the front of the Bible, and you’ll run smack dab into that fact. The whole “Let us make man in our own image…” thing.
(And yes, it’s more of a ‘let us make “personages” in our own image’ thing. Sorry, ladies – I tend to misquote Scripture from the vague memories of whatever translation I first heard the passage in, and commence the mangling from there. All ye persons, male and female, are image bearers. So there.)
Imago Dei = Image of God
(And, just to prove that I do actually do some research for this here blog thingie, I have now officially learned that I’ve been misspelling and mispronouncing that Latin phrase for a long time now.
Ah well. I consider myself corrected, and remember that any day I learn something new is a good day.
If you do the Wikipedia thing, you’ll find some informative words that will enlighten you, on many levels and in numerous directions, as to what all sorts of smart people think Imago Dei means.
Or, we can go right to the Calberti school of “mangle, process, puree, and ponder,” thus throwing my malformed and much-abused oar into the murky lake of academic pontification.
Wasn’t even a doubt which way my wind is blowing, eh?
The bitter truth is, I really don’t intend to deal with what Imago Dei means… I’m going from a different angle here, and might as well get right to my twisted window on the world, instead of pretending that I have some illumination to add to the world of meaning.
’cause that’s how I roll.
Here, then, is where the phrase Imago Dei is shaking my tree these days – if God, the Infinite Creator, is so complex in all His ways, in all His thoughts, and in all His being, why would we expect humans, bearers of His image, to be simple? Uncomplicated? Non-complex?
In all of our wondrous imaginings, our boundless creativity, our capacity to come up with new and different and amazing, we are complex, like the One whose image we bear.
In all of our darkness, our loneliness, our failings, our struggles, and the depths of horrors we generate from our own minds, we are complex, examples of the Image bent and twisted in a broken world.
We are complicated creatures, because we bear the image of One who is complicated, multi-layered, and is Himself that image made real and perfect.
Allow me to elucidate with a possibly personal example…
A personbeing needs to lose weight.
Personbeing #2, in all the helpful spirit of the friends of Job, repeats the oft-heard and usually-useless phrase: “Just eat less and exercise more. That’s it.”
Which leaves personbeing #1 twisting in the wind, cursing their lack of discipline and self-control, since if that’s the magic formula to rid themselves of this accursed weight, they just don’t seem capable of it.
As it turns out, the weight is only one layer…
Hiding underneath, an addictive personality, currently latched on to food…
Which was nurtured by a lonely childhood…
And many lessons and skills never truly learned in adolescence…
Mixed with depression…
Tendencies toward ADD and OCD…
And bipolar disorder.
When the first layer was removed, the others came to light. And need to be dealt with layer by layer. No magic phrase or tool to move this personbeing into happy-happy land – just long, slow, hard work, dealing with each new layer as it’s revealed, and trying to make progress on all the other layers discovered so far.
If I was just…….., then I’d be happy.
If I was a more faithful Jesus follower, I’d have victory over……
If I wasn’t so weak, I’d stop doing……
I’m a miserable person, since I keep……
I’m not the husband/wife/father/mother/friend/etc. that I should be, so I’m constantly disappointing……
Were the previous thoughts and questions autobiographical? Um… Could be.
Or, could be true for any one of us.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and bear the image of our wonderful and complex Creator.
We are fearfully and tragically broken in this fallen world, and bear the results of that brokenness on many levels and in many layers.
In exploring the wonders of our imaginations, our dreams, our passions, our loves, we see the magnificence of Imago Dei.
In plumbing the depths of our darkness, our despair, our fears, our regrets, we see the sadness of our brokenness.
In either direction, light or dark, we are complex creatures. There are no simple answers – either in the heights of wonder, or the depths of despair.
So, personbeing, if you find yourself in light or in darkness, your Father, whose image you bear, loves you. Every complex layer, every amazing dream, every broken moment. He extends to you what we must extend to ourselves and others…
There are no simple answers. But there is infinite love from the Father, the Creator, the One who gifted us with Imago Dei.
And that makes all the difference.