I wrote a shorter version of the following for our church’s weekly email blast.
In my sermon a couple of weeks ago, I referred to Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, whose text was engraved on the wall of the Lincoln Memorial, alongside the Gettysburg Address. When my family was in Washington a few weeks ago, we read aloud the text of both speeches.
As great as these speeches are, however, what impressed me most was the statue itself. For me, this image of Lincoln communicates strength, wisdom, steadiness, and faith. This memorial inspired me to spend at least 20 minutes thinking about Lincoln and the principles for which he stood.
You know what I didn’t think about? The marble out of which the sculpture was made, the biographical details of the sculptor who created it, or how difficult it must have been to do so. No, I thought about the man in whose image the sculpture was made.
Does this give us a sense, then, of what Genesis 1:27 means when it says that we are made in God’s image? Our reason for existing is to reflect the glory of God, rather than our own glory. When people encounter us, they ought to learn something about who God is, and who Jesus is. We ought to inspire others to praise the One in whose image we’re made.
To say the least, to be made in God’s image is intended to say far more about who God is than who we are. It’s funny: I think I’ve gotten that exactly backwards for most of my life!
With characteristic eloquence, pastor John Piper puts it like this:
So our existence is about showing God’s existence or, specifically, it’s about showing God’s glory. Which I think means God’s manifold perfections—the radiance, the display, the streaming out of his many-colored, beautiful perfections. We want to think and live and act and speak in such a way that we draw attention to the manifold perfections of God. And I think the way we do that best is by being totally satisfied in the those perfections ourselves. They mean more to us than money and more to us than fame and more to us than sex or anything else that might compete for our affections. And when people see us valuing God that much and his glory being that satisfying, they see that he is our treasure. Show me more! I think that’s what it means to glorify God by being in his image.[†]
† John Piper, “Question 4” in The New City Catechism Devotional (Wheaton: Crossway, 2017), 30.