On the image of God.

The fact that man has constant encounters with the reflection of God every day is marvelous. Through the mental and spiritual faculties uniquely possessed by man, God’s characteristics are imperfectly yet clearly displayed. Due to the fall of man, no fallen person can perfectly reflect God’s nature; however, traces of it remain in each person because he was initially created in the Imago Dei, according to Genesis 1:26-27. Thus, when a person sees the men around him as image-bearers of the Almighty God instead of chance mammals that evolved from a lower life form, that person gains a unique appreciation for each individual. As an aspiring English teacher, I am training to be granted the privilege of shaping image-bearing minds and hearts. Knowing that each individual in the world is made in the image of God drives a teacher to value the opportunity to shape young reflections of God.

Each student possesses immense potential simply because he was made in God’s image. God has created the human mind in such a way that it can think with the rationality of God Himself. No other creature in the world has been granted such a privilege. However, with such reasoning capabilities comes the immense importance of using the human mind effectively and to God’s glory. Especially in the field of English, a teacher bears the burden of teaching students to think critically and expand their minds. Colossians 3:10 says that the believer’s mind “is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” According to this verse, not only can I train the rational aspect of each student’s mind, but I can develop and guide the moral and religious truth of a student, including the pursuit of holiness. Unlike any other creature, man can be self-aware and determine his own actions. In fact, a person’s mind is continuously renewed and his spiritual sensitivity “is quickened” upon conversion, and he can properly understand his connection with God.[1] To guide and advise students in this process is a weighty and awesome possibility.

God’s creativity is immeasurably evident, which can be seen in every part of the world that He created. In fact, before the Fall when the world was perfect, the world was even more spectacular than in its present state, and every beautiful leaf and droplet of water was spoken into existence from the creative mind of God. This creativity is reflected in the art, music, and poetry created by humans. As an English teacher, I can pinpoint reflections of God’s beauty and artistry in the creations that my students put to paper. Keeping in mind their true identity, I must consciously train the aesthetic gifts that come straight from the mind of God. My privilege is to train these incredible, divinely inspired minds to focus their efforts and become more like Christ.

In the field of education, I must be careful to use my words to encourage and uplift students and colleagues. With the bad attitude of my heart, my tongue can “curse people who are made in the likeness of God,” according to James 3:9. Every student who will sit in every classroom in which I teach is valuable because he is made in the image of God. In addition, Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Incredibly, each person – even the “least of these” – bears the image of Jesus Himself, and deserves to be treated in such a way. Because of the image-bearing status of each person, no student deserves to be neglected, discouraged, or given up on – no matter how the world would label him. Each student deserves my time, attention, and energy as if I were serving the Lord Himself. When I teach, I must strive to teach excellently because God has also given me, a bearer of His image, the faculties to think and communicate excellently.

By teaching language to students, a teacher has the privilege of imparting skills in the same method of communication embodied and used by God. In the story of creation in Genesis, God spoke into existence everything that now exists. The whole of the universe came from His mouth in the format of language. Light, matter, and living things responded to His words.[2]  Light obeyed the Creator when He said “let there be light” in Genesis 1:3. Therefore, man’s having His capability for communication is highly significant. Adam was the one man who was literally “able to converse with God,” proving that language is a gift directly from God.[3] Though fallen mankind does not have the same access to communication with God as Adam, he still has the ability to communicate well. Thus, teaching language to students is an imparting of one of the greatest gifts He has given. Words also have other significance within Scripture. John 1:1-2 portrays Jesus as God and as “the Word.” God’s chosen method of communicating with mankind was through words spoken to prophets and translated to man. Because man bears the image of God, he has the capability for a fallen but intact understanding of God’s thoughts and communicating with God’s abilities. As an English teacher, I not only possess the mental capabilities necessary to think rational, language-based thoughts, but to communicate them to students using language in order to convey significant truths, directly reflecting the way that God communicates with man. This capability is an honor and a privilege.

Within each career field is the opportunity to interact with and impact men and women who bear their Creator’s likeness. No matter where I work, I must see each person around me in the way that God sees him – as a faint reflection of the almighty God of the universe. That title merits respect and gratitude to the God who so graciously made man this way.

[1] Towns, Elmer. Theology for Today (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Group, 2002), 575.

[2] Towns, Theology for Today, 575.

[3] Towns, Theology for Today, 574.

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