As enfleshed icons of God’s image, as Christ’s body present on earth, we are called to participate in God’s mission, God’s victory over every oppressive power.
Many in biblical studies take the notion of the image of God to mean a given set of qualities imparted upon man. These qualities might be attributes such as a moral aptitude not given to other animals of creation. In this thinking, mankind, by being created in the image of God, has a moral capacity to know and to engage in moral behavior that is not expected of other animals. While I agree that man has been imbued with a moral capacity, it may have been a characteristic present in the human species itself. We simply don’t know. What we do know is the that the notion of being created in the image of God would have carried more than just a moral quality. In the ancient Near East, bearing the image of a person in power, signified the right to represent that powerful person to all one encountered. A modern day version of this idea would be the large posters on Saddam Hussein plastered to buildings and roadside signs throughout Iraq prior to the Gulf War. Another version would be the large Soviet Union crests and pictures of Joseph Stalin throughout the former Soviet Union until the late 1980’s. What role did these images play in the residents of these two counties? The icons reminded them who was in charge and the character of that person. The posters and crests were icons that represented the actual power (person) that stood behind them. As creatures created in the image of God, regenerated, and now part of Christ’s body, we are called to represent God’s mission in this world. More than the posters that adorned buildings or crests that perched on buildings, we are live representatives of God’s character in this world. Further, the aforementioned icons represented the fearful repercussions that extended from the flawed character of those rulers. In contrast, Christ-followers are called as Sarah puts it, to participate in “God’s victory over every oppressive power.” As God’s image-bearers, we represent, the restoration available to all through Christ. However, it doesn’t stop there; for we are called to act as God acts: to represent his righteous and just character. This means we must be proactive in issues of peacemaking, relief of oppression, and bearing of justice in our world. Our mission is to proclaim the freedom offered by our King and to cry out for justice and relief for the helpless and downtrodden: To be enfleshed icons of God’s image.
(Sarah Dylan Breuer. The Justice Project (emersion: Emergent Village resources for communities of faith) (p. 36). Kindle Edition.)