It’s January 1st, and the turning of the calendar stirs in our hearts a desire for change. As women, that desire is often linked to changing our appearance and because of that, we wanted to go back to the beginning and look at what it means to be God’s image bearer.
Even if you aren’t setting a resolution today, at one point in your life you’ve probably set a goal to lose 20 pounds, learn how to apply your makeup, eat healthier, or go to the gym more.
We’re women, we do this. We look in the mirror, and all too-often, we long for something different than the image reflected back at us.
So in a world obsessed with image, it’s time we ask the question: Why?
Why do we tie up so much of our value and worth in our appearance?
This new year, we’re going to answer that question.
Specifically, we’re going to reflect on what it means to be God’s image bearer and how that’s intrinsically tied to the value we place in our appearance.
Today, we’re going to sit with the Genesis creation text, and lay a foundation for understanding our place as image bearers in God’s grand story.
The first time the Bible talks about image is in Genesis, right in those first two chapters.
Many of us are familiar with the creation story in Genesis 1 and 2 – in six days, God created earth and sky, mountains and rivers, oceans and canyons full of beauty and teeming with life.
God’s creative work didn’t end here.
There’s a final, crowning event. “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness,” God declares in Genesis 1:26.
Stop, read this again – this is amazing!
“Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness,”
says the God of the universe.
You see, something changes in this act of creation. This is new, separate, different from all God has created to this point.
All that came before this moment involved God creating beauty and life, but nothing which spoke of image and likeness. Then, we get this beautiful refrain in Genesis 1:27:
The God who poured out the depths of the oceans and spread the vastness of the skies, now creates in His own image.
The God that built mountains and topped them with snow, now creates in His own image.
The God who let loose the jaguar and the hummingbird side-by-side, now creates in His own image.
And that mirrored image of God is us: humanity.
We are the image bearers.
You, dear woman, are the image bearer.
Your Image & Divine Worth
Perhaps you’ve read this story before, maybe even heard a sermon or read a devotional about being created in the image of God.
But somehow, somewhere along the way, the significance of this event may have been lost in memory.
I want to take some time now to remind you of just how extraordinary the creation of humanity was.
Let’s look just at Genesis 1:27:
While it can be easy to read over this and move on, Scripture’s intent is that we pause and notice.
The word used three times for “create” in this verse is the Hebrew word “bara.”
The use of this word reveals this is a very different act of creation than simply “making” something. This kind of creating can only be divine, only be from God.
Nothing and no one else can create as God does.
Nothing and no one can assign special significance, give worth, craft beauty, and declare value as God does when creating.
And notice, this word is repeated three times!
Nowhere else in the creation narrative does this emphasis take place.
God’s divine, creative action is laser-focused on the creation of humanity. No other created creature is divinely given God’s image, no other creature given the weight of that worth.
The Image You See
Perhaps at this point you’re thinking, well, this was a great Bible study, and maybe you’ve learned a little bit about the creation narrative, a little about the Hebrew language, but mostly you want to hear:
What does this have to do with what I see in the mirror?
What does this have to do with my image?
We’ll dive into this more in the next 4 weeks, but today, I want to end with the wisdom of the Psalms.
There’s a short collection of Psalms that are called creation Psalms for their reflection back on Genesis. Psalm 8 is one of these, and the author expresses a sentiment that might resonate with your gut-reaction when you see your image in the mirror.
In Psalm 8:3-5, the Psalmist declares, “When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, what is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him?”
This poetic refrain reflects an all-too familiar feeling -
- what significance do I have,
- what makes me so special in all of this?
Maybe you look in the mirror, and despise what you see reflected back at you.
Maybe you examine your body and see no beauty, no carefully crafted work of God.
Maybe you turn away from your image in shame, and covet the beauty you see in others.
If this is you, sister, the next line in the Psalm is for you, “You made him little less than God, and crowned him with glory and honor.”
Let’s do a Bible-check on what exactly it means to be crowned with glory and honor.
Your Crown as Image Bearer
Reading this Psalm on its own is powerful. Diving into the picture being painted by the Psalmist is even more moving.
You see, the terms glory and honor are not just ascribed to you as part of humanity. The word for “glory” used in Psalm 8 is the same Hebrew word used all over the Old Testament for the revealed glory of God.
Whether it’s God revealing his might and power through his glory on Mt. Sinai, or God filling the temple with his glory in Jerusalem, or the prophets seeing the future glory of God in all its splendor, the picture of glory is not one to cast aside.
When it comes to being crowned with honor, I want you to think of
- the majesty of kings.
Because that’s the other jewel on your crown - the honor of being made in God’s image.
So next time you look in the mirror, dear woman of God, know this truth:
Your image is not dependent on your dissatisfaction, your shame, your hurt, or what others say about you.
Your image is not dependent on how well you can do your hair or makeup, it’s not dependent on your waistline or your bra size or the length of your legs.
Your image is the image of God.
You were divinely given glory and honor.
From your eyes that see, to your hands that create, to your waist that carries, to your feet that guide – you are an image bearer, in all likeness to the One that created you.
Bearing God's Image
Here’s what I want you to do now, my sister in Christ.
I want you to cease your striving.
If you leave our website today with nothing else, hear this:
you can do nothing to change the fact that you were created in God’s image.
Being an image bearer of God isn’t something you have to work for, not something you can do on your own.
It’s not something you can add to by having the perfect New Year’s resolution.
And as you hold onto this truth in your innermost being, choose to see the other women around you not as competitors for a better, more beautiful image. Choose to see them as joint image bearers.
Encourage them in their value and worth, remind them of God’s glory and honor their own unique image reflects.
Live out the truth of God’s designed story:
all were created in God’s image, including yourself, including the woman next to you.
And as you practice this truth, see how God transforms the image you see in the mirror. Not because your reflection changes, but your lens does.
To wrap up today, let’s answer our questions from the very beginning of this post:
- Does our image matter, and why exactly do we put so much value and worth in our appearance?
Yes, our image matters. It matters because it’s God’s image in us.
And the reason we place so much value and worth in our image is because…
If today, January 1st, you find yourself saying, “This will be the year that…” finish that sentence strong, woman of God.
This will be the year you look in the mirror and see God’s image reflected back at you.
So hold your chin high, put those shoulders back, and walk confidently into this new year knowing your identity –
Crown of Creation, God's Very Own Image Bearer
For more on appearance, image, value and self-worth check out any of these posts:
- How to Be Thankful for Your Appearance (even when it’s tough)
- DIY Spa Day: Making Time for Noticing Your Worth and God’s Grace
- Daughter, You Are Worthy!
- A Bitter Journey ~ An Honest Look at Women’s Struggle with Weight Loss
- What Makes a Woman Beautiful (in God’s eyes)
- What Makes a Woman Beautiful (in God’s eyes)
- What the Bible Says About Taking Care of Your Body