The Image of God

16 02 2011

Salvation is so much more than the forgiveness of our sins (as significant as that is), because there is much more wrong with us than the fact that we have broken God’s rules. Therefore, holiness is so much more than obeying God’s rules and striving to be nice people. Holiness has to do with the restoration of God’s image within us. That most holy of images has been damaged almost beyond recognition because of the way we have hurt others AND by the way others have hurt us. God’s image in us is horribly marred because in our rebellion against God we have taken sides with the Evil One and allowed his lies to mutate that image even more. We have enjoyed our rebellion, embraced the lies, and found ourselves miserable slaves of death and sin. Now tell me, who’s going to liberate a bunch of treacherous slaves? Beyond that, who would bother not only with our liberation, but would also work to see us restored to the status of royal sons and daughters of the Great King? Who would have the temerity, the power, and authority for such an endeavor?

 

St. Athanasius (4th century AD) tells us Who. In paragraph 13 of his great work On the Incarnation, he explains why only God the Word would or could do this. Prior to this quote Athanasius has been explaining that God would not

St. Athanasius

abandon those whom He created in His image. Even though they ignored the revelation of Nature, the Prophets and the Law; and though they continued to pursue a course of rebellion against their Creator, God knew their path would only lead to destruction and non-existence. Therefore, He would not just let them go. But, no human and no angel could accomplish the renewal of God’s image in humanity– only He who IS the eternal and perfect Image of the Father could do this work– and He could do it only by taking on human nature, by becoming one of us, yet one who would not succumb to the flesh and the demons. He alone could make us new.

[In the face of humanity’s hopeless situation] What, then, was God to do? What else could He possibly do, being God, but renew His Image in mankind, so that through it men might once more come to know Him? And how could this be done save by the coming of the very Image Himself, our Saviour Jesus Christ? Men could not have done it, for they are only made after the Image; nor could angels have done it, for they are not the images of God. The Word of God came in His own Person, because it was He alone, the Image of the Father, Who could recreate man made after the Image. In order to effect this re-creation, however, He had first to do away with death and corruption. Therefore, He assumed a human body, in order that in it death might once for all be destroyed, and than men might be renewed according to the Image. The Image of the Father only was sufficient for this need.

Glory to You, Lord Christ, glory to You!


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