Sunday, October 16, 2011

Understanding Spiritual Formation 2: The Image of God

The term "spiritual formation" is not always understood. This is the second in a series of posts seeking to explain what I mean when I talk about "spiritual formation".

The concept "image of God" has had many different interpretations over the centuries. Some great, some horrific. I have at least two interpretations of that phrase which resonate with me.

The first is that humanity was created to be God's representatives to creation. God's command to be the caretakers of the earth is a part of being image of God. We were created to be the co-regents of God. In the fall (Genesis 3), we see Eve allowing the serpent to misrepresent God; then with her response she also misrepresents Him. This activity is the first time we see a person acting out of concert with their identity as image bearers.

The second is that the image of God consisted of both Adam and Eve. The genders are an equality with a distinction (similar to the Trinity). Again at the fall, it appears that both Adam and Eve acted selfishly instead of lovingly toward each other. The result was that the intimacy of Genesis 2 was lost, and their relationship became adversarial (God pointed that out to them in Genesis 3), and again the image of God was placed on the back burner as the image of man was elevated.

John 1 says that no one has seen God (implying then that it is impossible to know what he looks like unless it is revealed), thus no one can correctly image him. BUT, Jesus (the One and Only) has made him known to us.

Jesus incarnate is the perfect representation of God the Father.

The incarnation happened through the Holy, the same Spirit that formed Jesus in the womb of Mary, is the same Spirit that now forms us as we are "in Christ".

Christ represented the Father perfectly. He did this through the empowerment of the Spirit.

Therefore, when we look like Christ, we image God.

The Spirit empowers us to look like Christ, because the Spirit speaks for Christ and represents Christ and is a counselor like Christ (John 14-16)

Spiritual Formation, then, happens when we open ourselves to the formative work of the Spirit. My thoughts later on how we do that.

For now, though:

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