From Sinners To Image-Bearers: Another Way to See Others (and yourself)

This is just a thought that popped into my head one day as I was walking on a street full of people. I was thinking to myself, “who are these people?”?

Imagine you are also walking on a crowded street and I ask you to define these people with one noun.

What would you say: simply people? human? or perhaps sinners?

Many agree that Christianity today sometimes loses its balance by seeing salvation as the goal of the gospel while forgetting the divine story begins with creation and accumulates into resurrection and restoration. And we are often told this phrase again and again, “Love the sinners, hate the sin.”

Push through Genesis 3 and start back in Genesis 1! said many authors.

And perhaps this does not apply to everyone – but if this entire “sinner” concept dominates my everyday thinking, my motivation for living can only go so far: to save the lost.

Which sometimes can become quite dry and dull, and the bigger picture gets lost.

And I am sure in one way or another, in your life (whether you are a Christian or not), you would have met one who, in the name of saving sinners, act as if he or she is better and higher than the unsaved.

Why not move beyond Genesis 3 to Genesis 1 to relocate the original intended identity of us: image-bearers?

This is not a term that we are given in the middle of the story. In the very beginning, God created men to bear His image (Genesis 1: 26-27).

Think about it. Take a second to imagine it. The Church – the corporate new man –  the New Jerusalem – is to fully become the dwelling place of God (Revelation 21:3) when the new heaven and new earth comes.

And living in this current age does not change the fact that we can still manifest a foretaste of this “already but not yet” kingdom that when we look around at our brothers and sisters, we see, in the word of C.S. Lewis, little Christs, one after another. Think about it. What an impact it would make. It is not some bizarre metaphor; it is a reality.

And so when you step outside your church gathering and look around the street, imagine what it’d be like when this street is filled with the images of Christ. The potential and capacity of those who are still wandering around to bear the divine image should capture us.

Brian Walsh, in his book Subversive Christianity, says that everyone today are obsessed with their images. It is even more so today with the social media we have: Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. All emphasise on how people see us visually.

But whatever image that we want to construct to find security and identity, it never surpasses the beauty and glory of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps it doesn’t work for you. But ever since seeing myself and others as image-bearers or potential image-bearers, I want my everyday living, not just individually, but corporately with the church and my neighbour, to be so filled with Christ that people will say, I want to know this Christ. I want to reflect this Christ. I want to express this Christ. I want to bear the image of this Christ!

Of course we may fail. But there’s a lifetime of grace.

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