What is the Image of God?

Simply put the imago Dei, the image of God, is our identity as human beings. God, in creating humanity, created the greatest possible finite expression of Himself. “Male and female He created them. (Genesis 5:2)”  It is who and what we are. This is a terse but incredibly profound statement about the place of humanity in the created order. In this simple formulation lies the foundation for our entire orientation to reality, informing us of our relationship to God, the world, ourselves, and others.  Thus, this identification as image bearers of God is the foundation for our existence and action in the world. Without this orientation we are unable to live fully human lives. Conversely, appropriating this truth and its meaning paves the way to full enjoyment of our humanity in its manifold expressions.

In light of the vision and mission of the Institute for Human Flourishing–to more fully articulate the meaning of the image of God for the benefit of our individual and corporate well-being–a few basic themes can be stated. The first theme we note is that as image bearers of God, we are intimately connected to God. Most importantly, Christ, in becoming human, has become the paradigmatic expression of humanity. He has shown us and made it possible for us to be what we were created to be. This is the basis for universal human dignity and for our inestimable worth. Second, we note that in expressing ourselves as image bearers, we naturally produce culture and have the authority to do so. Finally, we need the personal orientation this revealed truth gives us. Identification as God’s image bearers is essential to our self-understanding and thus our personal integration into whole human beings.

Needless to say, there is much more to be said on these matters. After all, there are over 7 billion image bearers in existence today!  Believing that our God-given identity is the basis for love of God, neighbor, and self, the Institute for Human Flourishing is profoundly humbled and excited to contribute to the understanding of our common humanity and explore the ways God has made for us to flourish.