When white light is passed through a transparent prism, it is refracted into the many colors of the rainbow. It is an impressive demonstration of the beauty of God’s design in creation.
Similarly when the Light of the world, Jesus Christ, shines through the life of a spiritually dead person, the image of God revives and becomes refracted in many different ways.
As we saw last month, the concept of image can have a variety of meanings.
An image can be a carving. God wants His image-bearers to be a carving. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses instructs Israel: Love the Lord your God with all your heart … soul … and strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Carve them on your children. How? “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” It is not uncommon today to hear parents as well as children complain that they get too much of God and His Word—church, Sunday School, catechism and· Christian school. But the truth is that we can never get too much of God and His Word. His truth must be engraved upon us so it shapes all of our thoughts, words and actions. The family altar must be strengthened, in fact, revived in our homes today. Only by daily fellowship with God can the image of God be restored once again in our lives.
Image-bearing also means that we are to be a copy of our God. We are to imitate Him. Imitation is not a very popular concept today. Imitation stymies creativity we are told. But Ephesians 5:1 says: “Be imitators (copies) of God therefore, as dearly loved children…” What is there about God that we and our children must imitate?
– His truth
– absolute integrity in all of life
– His goodness
– the absence of evil and the demonstration of unselfish love
– His spirituality in this body-oriented society
– His knowledge in this society of distorted views of God, man, and of created reality
– His wisdom in this warped society of twisted value judgments
Image-bearers are also to be reflectors of our God. Not only are they to contain the communicable attributes of God, but as a mirror throws back a reflection, so the believer is to throw back or actively demonstrate those attributes in daily living. The light of Jesus Christ which shines through the believer must be reflected constantly. Acts 4:13 says that people marveled at Peter and John and “took note that they hadbeen with Jesus.” Can it be said of us and our children that we have been with Jesus? Do our lives reflect His deep abiding presence within our hearts?
An image can also be a thought, a mental image. We are told to “think God’s thoughts after Him” as image-bearers. Why is this important? It is important because “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” The relationship between thought and action is very close. Consequently, the shaperof our thoughts is very crucial in image-bearing. Unfortunately, the, most powerful shaper of thoughts in today’s world is the television set (and more recently the internet), and the results are there to see. Sexual lust and material success are the dominant motifs in toqay’s world, and spiritual apathy is the result. Consciences are becoming insensitive to adultery and violence. What we desperately need as image-bearers children, all of us bound in covenant to Him. We are God’s advertisements to the world. Paul says: “You show that you are a letter from Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts” (II Corinthians 3:3). Someone has aptly said, “The Christian is the only Bible some people will ever read.” What a responsibility! As image-bearers we, together with our children, are to witness, to make an impression on a godless world.
Image-bearing is the primary activity of every Christian. Training for image-bearing (because it doesn’t just “happen”) is the primary task of every parent. May God eqUip us for this task.
Laurie Vanden Heuvel, together with her husband, is editor of The Outlook magazine. She graduated from Calvin College and received her master’s degree from Grand Valley State University. She taught in Christian schools (for thirty years and is the mother of five children, grandmother of twelve. Her husband is pastor of the Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Holland, MI.