In the Image and Likeness of God?
What does it mean to be made “in the image and likeness” of God as stated in Genesis? Does that mean that we look like God or that He looks like us? Or neither?
I hope I look more like God than He does like me…(think about the difference).
Okay, back to your question. Put simply…
No. (Wow, I guess that was put very simply).
As you quoted in your question, Genesis 1:26-27 says:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’…God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.
Now, upon first glance it sure does look like it’s saying that we “look like” God. But the meaning is actually, far deeper than that.
You see, to be made in the image of God means that, above all else, that you and I are made with the capacity to love. As the Catechism reminds us, man is given the dignity of being someone and not just something. (CCC #356-357). Because we’re made in His image, we can know Him, love Him and share in His love (accepting His love is a huge part of this).
God is love (1 John 4) and the Trinity is the manifestation of perfect love…the love of Father for Son, Son for Father… a love so intense that love becomes another person, in the Holy Spirit. In the Holy Trinity we have the perfection of charity/love.
In addition, we are like God in that we have an intellect. We are “rational beings” even though we don’t always act rationally. We have free will, even though we often exercise our will for self (pride) rather than God. Also, in the way that we can participate in creation (procreation), work and rest and having dominion (over all living things), we are “like” God.
Whether feminine or masculine, we possess the dignity of God’s image, and we reflect His wisdom, His goodness and His love (CCC #369). Also, through Christ we become temples of the Holy Spirit (CCC #364) and we become walking tabernacles, because the real and Eucharistic presence of Christ is within us.
What is really cool is that the man and woman are perfectly distinct and different (giver and receiver) but also perfectly complimentary. In that, the man and woman become one flesh (Genesis 2:24), and are meant for one another in a communion that brings forth life and models the very love of God. Since it takes three to conceive (man, woman and God) the two (husband and wife) then bear a child, the fruit of their love, God’s life.
Did you get all that? I know it’s a lot.
This is a great question and a very deep one. We could talk all day about this stuff.
If you are really interested, I cannot suggest strongly enough that you pick up a copy of The Theology of the Body* from your local Catholic bookstore. Also, there are several texts out (and coming out all the time) that will help you “break open” this incredible gift to the Church.
*For those of you that have never heard of it, The Theology of the Body is a collection of 129 Papal addresses given by John Paul II early on in his Pontificate, outlining God’s plan for human sexuality and the ways in which His divine life is manifested in our human existence. It is, in my very humble opinion, the greatest gift to our church in the modern age.
HSI has also started running a series of articles on The Theology of the Body by Christopher West in our main section. You might want to check it out.
It will take this question and answer and really expound on both, in ways you cannot begin to comprehend.
Keep on reading and know that God is pouring out His grace upon you for your openness to His Word and truth…
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