From Sinners To Image-Bearers

I was walking on the street full of people one night and I was thinking to myself, “Who are these people?” Imagine you are doing the same 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 final goal of the gospel while forgetting the fact that 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.” 

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 is absolutely crucial, yet sometimes it can become quite dry and dull while making us lose the bigger picture.

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.

Let’s then pause for a second on Genesis 3 and start back in Genesis 1 first. As we move back to Genesis 1, we are able 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. 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. Living in this current age does not at all change the fact that we can still manifest a foretaste of this “already but not yet” kingdomthat when we look around at our brothers and sisters, we see, in the word of C.S. Lewis, little Christs, one after another. Take a second to imagine it: what an impact it would make. It is not some bizarre metaphor; it is a reality.

So when you step outside your church gathering and look around the street, visualize 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 virtually 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, yet 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 supply of grace.

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