I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.
What does it mean to be made into the image of God?
Have you ever wondered what God looks like? Does He even have an image? If He does have an image do we look like Him?
According to the Bible we are being made into the image of God. Most people think we are born into that image but the answer might be a little more complex than a simple Yes or No answer. Why you ask? Well, let’s look at the 6th day of Creation where God is talking to someone and says:
Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
So like any good Christian who was taught in Sunday school you would think, “Well, yes then. We are made in God’s image and He looks a lot like us” Right? You would think so but then read on to the next chapter. Right after God rests on the seventh day there is a kind of rewind and we are now looking at a somewhat different story as we see man is not made on the 6th day but rather way back before the trees appear on the 3rd day.
Genesis 2: 4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,
5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
In this chapter we see that we are not made in God’s image from the start of creation but rather it is something we are transformed into at a later date. So, if then God did not make man in His image to start with then when is that seventh Day of Creation where God rests? Is it perhaps that the parable of the garden is more than it seems? Is it that maybe there is more going on than first thought? Perhaps, but let’s focus first on what God might look like if we are not in His image to start with. To understand this better perhaps it’s better to know the attributes of God.
So let’s ask ourselves does God have a body? Yes, according to scriptures God shows Himself several times starting with Adam & Eve as He walks in the garden. He again shows Himself to Moses on the mountain top. The thing is though God has made Himself known there is much more to this puzzle than you might suspect.
Let’s start with the symbolic nature of the human body and see how it mirrors God:
Each body part has a symbolic meaning and by knowing the corresponding significance of each body part your Bible reading will change accordingly.
- The Head: Your head represents the center of thought. The head is symbolic of the masculine attribute of knowledge.
- Face: In the Bible the face of God is hidden. Consider a human’s face. If you see a person’s face you can generally get a feeling for what they feel or think, so we never see God’s face as we do not know the will of God. So symbolically the face of God cannot be known yet Jesus is supposed to be made in the exact image of God. *Remember this as we will come back to this later.
- Eyes: Eyes are about perceptions of the mind’s eye and not those we physically possess. In our perceptions we see clearly the truth hidden in things.
- Nose: The nose is the means of telling if something is good or bad to consume, as we learned in the last post. To smell something good to eat is as knowing it is good for gaining the strength of the thing consumed and thus distinguishing the worthiness of a thing. As Toucan Sam says “Follow the nose! It always knows!” this is because it is symbolic of discernment.
- Mouth: the mouth and teeth are about eating and thus breaking down a thing that it may be digested. To break ones teeth would be as to remove the ability to understand as it can’t be broken down and considered as in “chewing the cud”.
- Tongue: The tongue varies from the mouth as it does not eat but rather is the instrument of speech in the scriptures as well as that of taste. The tongue is more fickle than the rest as it is based in personal taste and from the tongue comes all forms of personal preferences like love and hate and these attribute spill out from the heart out into the world around you.
- Ears: Ears are the instruments of understanding as they hear beyond the words and decipher the truth in everything to see if things resonate in harmony with the truth. In other words they are the means of finding reason through the subtleties that surround us.
- Hair: Hair is attributed as wisdom as it grows long in understanding, thus woman, whom is the figure of wisdom, has the longest hair and man’s is shorter as he is the symbol of knowledge or head that must accept the word of God.
- Neck: The neck is the means of turning from one path unto another. To be stiff necked is to be as an ox that can’t be turned; so thus the stiffness of neck is symbolic of obstinacy or pliability.
- Heart: The heart is the central vessel of reasoning. Where the head is knowledge, the heart is wisdom and it is often attributed as a feminine quality as the center of the soul’s house/body and as mother, spirit, blood or water.
- Arms: The arms always represent strength in actions.
- Hands: Hands are the instruments of action itself called works. The hands are the symbol of everything you do both spiritually and physically.
- Fingers: These are the means of pointing things out and also in the actions of grasping onto a concept.
- Body: The body gets a bad rap but it is simply the vessel in which our soul’s reasoning is conveyed. The body is the sum of all the parts but it often referred to as the enemy of God as it symbolizes our more primitive animal self.
- Legs: Legs too are about strength but also are used to convey balance and endurance. (IE: running, walking, lifting etc.)
- Feet: Feet are a pivotal instrument as they represent the steps in which we take through our journey through life. This is not the physical steps but the times of choices that create growth. They work like moving roots, as they ground you to the right path but also work as a constant progression of balance in choices.
- Back and Shoulders: The shoulders and back are the aspects of endurance as though that which is chastised or carries a burden. The strength of back is the resolve you have to making a difference as it supports the body in all its choices.
This is the image of God as seen through the reflection of man. We say man is made in God’s image but we actually understand God’s attributes through our own bodies. If we look within we find we are all part of a greater truth that lives within us and the Bible is all about a macrocosm and microcosm where all thing great and small reflect within each other. By knowing the bodies spiritual significance we can then see the will of God more clearly as we reflect His truth within us, as all we do is driven by forces not easily seen but imitated in our lives and in our choices we make.
Try and consider these body parts and then look back at some of the verses in the Bible that reflect them and see what they mean in a more spiritual light.
John 13:9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
Consider Simon Peter: Both names mean stone but each has a slightly different aspect of truth. Consider Peter as your obstinacy as a founding stone of truth and Simon your willing obedience. Now your willing obedience is resilient to change and thus it seeks clarification by asking to have also its head and hands cleaned as well. Look at the list and see that feet are your choices and thus Christ is teaching you to make wise choices by cleansing away the confusion that clutters them. But in the process you question your head and hands as well, but consider Peter’s attributes, he is a very good man but he is also a bit of a hot head and makes poor choices based in his desire to do what he thinks is right. But the head is the center of thought and Peter does not need to purify his mind as his thoughts are good. He too does not need to have his hands cleansed as he does good deeds. He thinks well and acts accordingly but he does tend to make bad choices by not considering the consequences of his actions. This verse of the Bible seems very sweet in that it is our Lord and master cleansing our feet as it is a symbol of closeness but hidden within it is the truth that we all need to help each other make better choices.
Go ahead and take these physical symbols of the body and see if you too can see the hidden spiritual message from God in Scripture on how to emulate Christ within you.
*Remember I said we would come back to this later? Well here we are. Christ is the symbol of the authority you gain by following the steps of righteousness. Following in His footsteps is actually imitating the process of enlightenment laid out in the first seven Days of Creation. By following the process we eventually build Christ within and thus we too become reflections of our Creator. So for this reason Christ is made in the image of Adam and of God. Man is being transformed by a process of enlightenment to overcome his body’s animal/beast nature and to become a man like God, fully enlightened and upright and thus we wear the full armor of God that we may overcome the final stage of testing.
2 Corinthians 6:7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.