This was a very helpful section (For me at least) from Anthony A. Hoekema’s book Created in God’s Image. I had always struggled with understanding what being made in the image of God looks liked. What Dr. Hoekema said gave great clarity to the question. Unlike the answers I had heard before, which looked into things like mental capacity, artistic ability, etc. Dr. Hoekema grounds the vision of the image of God in Christ. This is what he writes,

As we continue to ask we must understand by the image of God, we are reminded of the fact that in the New Testament Christ is called the image of God par excellence; he is the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). If, therefore, we wish to know what the image of God in man is really like, we must first look at Christ. This means, among other things, that what is central in the image of God is not such matters as reason, or intelligence but rather love, since what stands out more than anything else in the life of Christ is his amazing love. In Christ, in other words, we see clearly what is hidden in Genesis 1: namely, what man as the perfect image of God should be like.

He then lists out three primary relationships Christ had,

  1. Christ…was wholly directed towards God.
    • Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.(John 4:34 )
  2. Christ is wholly directed towards the neighbor.
    • When people came to him in need, whether that need was for healing, food, or forgiveness, he was always ready to help them.
  3. Christ rules over nature.

In sum, from looking at Jesus Christ, the perfect image of God, we learn that the proper functioning of the image includes being directed towards God, Being directed toward the neighbor, and ruling over nature.

Thus, as it relates us Christians,

  1. To be a human being is to be directed towards God.
    • Man is a creature who owes his existence to God, is completely dependent on God, and is primarily responsible to God. This is his or her first and most important relationship…To be a human being in the truest sense, therefore, means to love God above all, to trust him and obey him, to pray to him and to thank him.
  2. To be a human being is to be directed towards one’s fellowmen.
    • The human person is not an isolated being who is complete in himself or herself, but that he or she is a being who needs the fellowship of others…It means that man’s acceptance of and love for others is an essential aspect of his humanness.
  3. To be a human being is to rule over nature.
    • As God is revealed in Genesis 1 as ruling over the whole creation, so man is pictured here as God’s vicegerent, who rules over nature as God’s representative. Having dominion over the earth, therefore, is essential to man’s existence…man, while standing below God, stands above nature as its ruler, as the one who is summoned to admire its beauties, discover its secrets, and explore its resources. But man…must rule over nature in such a way as to be its servant as well.

~Anthony A. Hoekema, Created in God’s Image, p. 73-80