So God created mankind in his own image ,in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1: 27
We often forget that all of humanity is created in God’s image. It is even said in rabbinic tradition that the first man was illuminated with glory similar to God’s own. Christianity focuses a lot upon the Fall of man and our sinfulness. This makes us forget that even in our sinfulness we are still an image of God. Think on that a moment. We, despite our failings, are created in the likeness of the Supreme Creator.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 3:18
When we look in the mirror or upon another person, we are seeing a some of God’s majesty. Is it any wonder than that Jesus considered the two greatest commands to be love God and love each other? By loving each other, we are loving a part of God’s majesty. What we see within ourselves as an image of God isn’t the way we look. Rather, God creates us in His image of compassion and mercy. God isn’t an old man with the long flowing beard we often visualize. He is Love incarnate and powerful. The face we see in the mirror is a face that can shine with compassion and love for all of creation. Jesus exemplified this Love God is in such a way we can understand. Even His death on the cross doesn’t compare to the Love God is. Dying for another is the only supreme expression of love we can show or understand.
This limitation is why we are an image of God. In some versions of the Genesis story, God created man only a little less than Himself. We are only a little less capable of being Compassion.
Certainly we sin, but there is a little too much focus on this aspect of being human. The greatest part of being human is being an image of God; no matter how tarnished, it is still there. It can be, as Paul points out, transformed into a greater image; we can grow in Compassion. Realizing this fact, helps us also realize our capacity for love is boundless. We simply do not work to develop it.
Christianity speaks often about God’s grace being a part of salvation from sins. God’s forgiveness is all the is necessary. I argue that we shouldn’t focus so much on this. God will, after all, forgive as He wants to forgive. Our responsibility is to grow in compassion and become increasingly like the Being we are images of. It is only through practicing Love, as Jesus and Paul point out, can we grow into the compassion God originally intended us to be. We cannot earn forgiveness for sins. We can, however, work toward becoming a representation of God.