Most of the time when we hear a teaching on Genesis chapter one, specifically verse 27; “So God created man is his own image”, facts regarding the image bearers are presented. These facts include mankind, both Adam and Eve, are the crown of creation. Human life alone is created in the “image” of God and has the special assignment to rule over the created order. It is implied that Adam and Eve and their descendants will have a relationship with God that is different than all other creatures. Humans alone will reflect the glory of God in creation more specifically than any other creature.
As true and helpful as these facts are in understanding our relationship to God, if accepted as “that’s the whole story”, as leaders and husbands and fathers we will find ourselves in trouble. The whole story unfolds as we read the rest of the Bible. Adam and Eve rebelled and the glory of God faded in these image bearers. Jesus shed His blood on the cross to restore the image bearers. If you have received the salvation of Christ, image bearing takes on a whole new meaning.
Listen to what Paul states as a fact regarding the redeemed image bearers:
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
(Romans 8:29, ESV)
What is predestined is that we become like Christ (cf. 2 Cor 3:18). The purpose is that Christ might be the “eldest in a vast family of brothers”. If we were to bear no family resemblance to him, the intention of the Father would never be realized.
Listen to Paul once again as he prays for us to conform to the One whose image we bear:
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
(Philippians 4:7-8, ESV)
Paul desires here that we be conformed to the image of Christ. Our goal is stated clearly; love what God loves and hate what God hates. Act and react as Jesus would. In other words, after reading the story of the prodigal son in Luke chapter 15, we would lean back and say, “yep, I’d handle that situation the same way”.
God is both strict when it comes to sin, and merciful when it comes to need. But it is not good enough to simply have a code of strictness and mercy toward our family. The strictness and mercy must conform to God’s standards. Listen to how Doug Wilson, Pastor/Author of the book Father Hunger , states it:
This is why fathers need to learn how to be strict in the same way that God the Father is strict, and to be merciful in the same way that He is merciful. If we are strict only, we crush the spirit of our children, or we provoke rebellion. If we are merciful only, we create a culture of entitlement and self-indulgence in the home. And, in the worst possible combination, if we are strict where God is merciful and merciful where God is strict, then we are busy supplying the strip clubs of the future with all their pole dancers and customers.
We cannot wink at sin and withhold blessing. As leaders, we must work hard everyday at being the servant-leaders blueprinted in the Word of God. A wise leader studies the blueprint. Biblical authority flows only to those who are willing to accept this responsibility. Biblical authority knows how to bleed for others.