II. IN GOD’S IMAGE
Colossians 1:15 says that the beloved Son of God is the image of the invisible God, and 2 Corinthians 4:4 says that Christ is the image of God. God decided in His Godhead to create man in His image, and the image of God according to the Bible is just Christ. This image is not a physical form, but it is the expression of what God is in all His attributes and virtues. All God’s attributes and virtues are invisible. These are the constituents of God. God is full of invisible attributes and virtues. Christ is the expression of all that God is in His attributes and virtues, and this expression is the image. Thus, the image of God is the expression of God in all that He is.
We have to point out to people that the image of God does not mean a kind of a figure, a kind of an image, for people to worship, but it means the very expression of what God is. God created man in His image. That means God made man to have the attributes and virtues that He has. When God created man, He created him in His image, according to His attributes and virtues, so that man can express Him through these attributes and virtues. For example, God has love, and God loves. God also created man that man may have love and that man may love. God has wisdom and God has His purpose, so God made man also to have wisdom and to have a purpose. God can think, God can consider, God can love, God can like and dislike, God can make choices, God can have intentions, and God can make decisions. God created man in the same way so that man could express God. What man has, however, is only the image of God’s attributes and virtues but not the reality. Man must receive God as his life and content, and then God with His attributes and virtues will fill up man to become the reality of man’s attributes and virtues.
Man was made in the image of God which is Christ. This indicates that man was made for Christ to enter into man so that He could occupy man and use man as His vessel to express Himself. Man is a container. A container is always made in the form of the thing which it is going to contain. Suppose the thing that is needed to be contained is square. Then you make a square container. If the thing that is to be contained is round, then you make the container round. The container is made in the image of its contents. Man was made by God in the image of God, Christ, with the purpose that one day man would be taken over by Christ and filled up with Christ that man would be Christ’s container and Christ would be man’s content.
III. AFTER GOD’S LIKENESS
God’s image is His inward being. God’s likeness is His outward form. Inwardly, God has His being with all the attributes and the virtues, and outwardly, God has a likeness. On the one hand, God is invisible. Since God is invisible, how could God have a likeness? This is something very hard for us human beings to understand and to explain. God appeared to Abraham in Genesis 18 in the likeness of a man. We cannot say that God was invisible in Genesis 18 and that He did not have a likeness. God appeared to Abraham in a visible way with man’s likeness. Genesis 18 shows that God has man’s likeness. Man’s likeness is after God’s likeness. We human beings have a physical body and this is our likeness. We also have our inner being. In the same way, God has His inner being and also His likeness. Man’s outward body was created after the likeness of God. Before God was incarnated to be a man, He appeared to Abraham in the form of a man. The form of man is the form of God, for man was created after the likeness of God.
(Basic Lessons on Life, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)