Date: 2/01/04
Text: Genesis 1:26-27
Title: Who Am I
Theme: Since we are created to reflect God's image, the pursuit of Christ-likeness should be evident in every aspect of our life.


The almost daily suicide bombing in Israel and Iraq, the senseless killings in Cambodia, China and Iraq's recent history, the teen who shot his family members, the confession of a prisoner prior to the execution: I committed those killings with no personal intent but I had to make a living too. The blooming pornography industry and the sexual exploitations in the midst of Superbowl celebrations. The rampant abortions in our world. Cynicism, resentment, bitterness, hatred and the scathing attacks of others. Domestic violence, belittling our spouse and children. What do these have in common? The failure to understand who we are.

This morning I am glad for this opportunity to expound on a topic which is very dear to me. This is also a topic embedded in the Core Values of HCC. Who Am I?

I. Reflected Image.

To find the answer to this question we have to turn to Genesis chapter one. Here we learned that there is a God who created the heaven and the earth, the physical world. He is also the creator of animals, vegetations and human beings. Therefore, as creatures, we humans are on the same footing as the animals and the plants. We are similar in many different ways: such as physiology and body functions at the cellular and molecular level, not only because we are created by the same God, but we also live in the same physical world.

However, in Genesis 1:26-27, " Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Man is different from the animals and plants, because man is made in God's image. We are created to reflect God's image.

What do we mean by God's image? It is not God's all wise, omnipresence, omniscience, almighty, and infinite. These are attributes belonging only to God. Image and likeness mean that there are some similarities between God and man, but man is never equal to God. Ideally, if we want to know what image of God is, we would look at Adam and Eve. However, because of their sin, this image was destroyed or defaced. So we have to turn elsewhere. From the narrative in Genesis 1 and other OT passages, we catch a glimpse of what God is like. He reasons, he communicates via words (let us..), he is creative (look at the world he created), he has clear standards (he considers his creation as good, according to his most perfect standard). He has emotions (he is angry when his people sins, joyous when they are obedient).

Moreover, in the NT; Colossians 3:10, "and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator." Ephesians 4:23-24, "…..and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. " These passages tell us that for the redeemed, we are to recover this image of God. Moreover, they also provide us with specific details of this image of God. Colossians 3:12, "Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." So what are some of the characteristics of God's image? They are love, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and peace.

We are created to reflect such images of God.

II. Distorted Image.

Adam was created in God's image. Yet in chapter 3 of Genesis, we also learn that Adam and Eve deliberately sinned against God. What was normal is now abnormal. And the image of God became distorted and defaced. In the midst of human corruption and sinfulness, Genesis 9:6, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image." God was telling Noah about the consequences of taking another human life. You see, even in the midst of sin and corruption, God's image was and is still embedded in men.

We still love, but often our love is selfish and self serving. We still reason, but in reasoning, we have pushed God out of the world he created. We are creative, yet have created the destructive weapons and all kinds of schemes to deceive people. We are kind and gentle, only to those who agree with us and are kind and gentle to us. You see, because of sins, what we have now is a distorted image of God.

III. Restored Image.

Adam was created in God's image and he disobeyed God and sinned. So from Adam, we cannot see what God's image is like. However, when Jesus Christ came into the world, he was also called the second Adam. The first Adam disobeyed God but the second Adam, Jesus Christ, was fully obedient to God. Since he was sinless and also fully God, so the scriptures teach us to follow him and be like him. Jesus himself said, Matthew 11:29, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls..." He wants us to learn from him, to be like him.

Yes, the image is distorted, but having been redeemed, now we are to restore this image in us. In Romans 8:28, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." I want us to pay special attention to the statement: God works in all things for the good of those who love him… What is this good? Those who love him are also the ones whom he has called, those he has called, he also predestined to what? To be conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ. To those he called, predestined he also justified and glorified. In short it says, In all things God works for the good of those he has called and predestined. What is this good? That they be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

Simply put, what is the main purpose in the life of the redeemed? To restore God's image in us.

IV. Full Image of God.

Yes, while on earth, our main objective is to recover God's image in our lives. Yet, as long as we live, we still carry the marks of sin, therefore we'll never fully be like Christ. One day, when Christ returns or when we are ushered into his presence via death, we will then be fully and totally like Christ. This is our hope.

V. Applications

If you have been coming to this church during this past few years, I feel you are familiar with the truth that we are made in God's image. This image was distorted because of sins and therefore when we come to know Christ, it becomes our objective in life to become like him and restore this broken distortion in us. But what does it mean to us on a daily basis? I have several suggestions:

1. Personal growth.

What is my chief end in life? To glorify and enjoy him forever. How? By being like him. In my personal spiritual journey, the controlling principle is with the help of the Holy Spirit, I am to be more and more like Christ. My priority in life is not to accomplish great things for God, (he doesn't need my help), but to be like him. There is no short cut, but a daily process of becoming Christ like. This process is what we call Sanctification. How?

First, through the reading and obeying the instructions in the Bible. I am to be gentle and humble like Christ. Gentle means being kind, not harsh, hostile or critical towards others, especially those that are close to me. Humble means I am to learn to see others stronger and better than me. to be humble also means to give others the benefit of doubt, that I may be wrong. Certainly, the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, "Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;…." The question we have to ask ourselves each month, each year is, "Am I more Christ like than last month, last year?"

Secondly, God works in all circumstances to help me to become more Christ like. This is clearly explained in Romans 8:28, 29, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son," In the context of Romans 8, the "all things" is a reference to suffering and pain in life. Some of us are going through difficult times with our health, a major procedure is coming up. You may be encountering some real difficult persons at work or at school, or even in the church. Your relationship is on hold or running into a wall. You scream and yell that you want out. But the scriptures tell us that God works in these situations and people to shape us into his likeness. He is like a potter shaping us into a vessel that reflects him image.

Right now, as long as we live, this work is not finished. We are constantly under construction. We look forward to the day when we will be completely and fully like him. However, we don't stop at our personal pursuit of Christ-likeness. The conviction that I am made in God's image and created to reflect his image will also affect how I relate to others.

2. The unborn child.

This past week marks the 31st anniversary of the legalization of Abortion on demand in this country. If I believe that every life is created by God and bears his image, then every life, including the unborn, is very precious. Every life is sacred. Even though some lives are formed through some very ugly circumstances such as: rape or incest, yet each life is precious for it carries God's image. Even if the unborn child may be high risk for certain congenital illness, it is a life created by God in his image, it is therefore, precious and sacred.

3. Human relationships.

If I believe that every life is created by God and is made in his image, I will no longer see people according to their skin color, their education, profession and ability. I see each individual as God's image bearer. If I believe that each person is God's image bearer, then I will not see the congregation as objects we use to grow this church, or how you can come and serve this church, like pawn on a chessboard. I will treat each person with dignity and respect.

In my almost 22 years of ministry, there is one thing that hurts me deeply. That is, when believers can't get along with each other. Often we are not on speaking terms. We make all kind of excuses not to be in the same room, same fellowship or small groups. We criticize each other and harbor resentment, bitterness and even hatred towards the other person. We are cynical and often slanderous when we mention that person's name. I am certain even as I speak; some names and faces have surfaced in your minds and you know who they are.

If we truly believe that we are all made in God's image, then I will treat these people differently. I will see them as God's image bearer. I will be kind and gentle and see them as better than myself. Yes, we may not see things eye to eye, that is ok. But because you are made in God's image, I will reach out, love and care for you.


Many years ago, while he was on his way to give a talk, Francis Schaeffer stooped in the hallway and talked to a dirty, shabby-looking hippie. Prior to a debate with the well known liberal theologian, Bishop Pike, Schaeffer asked his friends to pray for him that throughout the debate, he will demonstrate God's love.

As I look at this congregation, I see some of us sacrificially caring for your mentally handicapped children. You decided, against the medical profession's advice, to carry the 4 month old unborn child after being told of the risk of congenital problems. We want to reach out to the poor, the elderly, the homeless, the prisoners and the AIDS victims. We want to do more to help the unborn child so they will not be aborted. We befriend, talk to and care for those who are very different from us: different language, skin color, personality, education and social background, theological and political persuasion. We pray for those who have hurt us. We are gentle, kind and polite towards those we dislike and disagree, and we care for the littlest one among us.

Why? Because we hold on to the truth that each person is made in God's image, and we are created to reflect his image in all areas of life. As I strive to become more Christ like, I am also deeply convicted that each person God brings into my life is precious and sacred, and to be treated with dignity and respect.