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Why Your Children Need to Understand that They’re Image Bearers

July 11, 2018

“Lord, help me see my girls the way you see them.”

This is a normal prayer for me. I say it nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day. It’s often answered as the Lord helps me soften my responses and tailor my discipline. However, recently this prayer was answered through old school FM radio.

The voice coming through the speaker shared the biblical truth that we are all image bearers of God. This means that everyone—even those people we find offensive, or unlovable, or consider enemies of God—were created in his image.

Created in God’s Image

The Bible only takes 26 verses before it tells us that we are created in God’s image:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

I knew this. But it was like my heart heard it for the first time. And then, in the rearview mirror, I saw my three girls.

These girls are stunning because of their similarities and their differences, their strengths and their weaknesses, but mostly because they are image bearers of God. Yes, these beautiful little ladies that make me batty one second and make my heart crumble into a million pieces the next, are created in the image of God himself.

Of course, their sinful nature and sinful choices cloud and corrupt the image they bear. But when I pause long enough, I can see God’s reflection. I can see him as Creator in the way my daughter sketches the flowers in our front yard. I can see his joy in the way the littlest one throws her head back in full-bellied giggles.

But this isn’t just a sweet thought to hold on, it’s a truth that transforms. Here are five reason why we and our children need to understand that we are made in the image of God.

Why We Need to Understand that We Bear God’s Image

1. It clarifies our identity.

By remembering that my daughters are image bearers of God, I parent them with a better understanding of who they are and to whom they belong. They are not mine. Created in God’s image, they belong completely to him. Therefore, my training, correction, and discipline take on a new meaning.

I am simply the Lord’s ambassador in my home, and it’s my role to help them understand his Lordship, rather than make myself lord (2 Corinthians 5:20).

And because they are created by him, they were created to be like him, not like me. This means that their interests, their traits, and their futures may look very different from mine. I am a writer, but I shouldn’t expect to raise a bunch of little writers (although I wouldn’t complain).

They are unique, and they are uniquely made for him, for his glory (Psalm 100:3).

2. It glorifies the work of Jesus.

When I remember that my girls are image bearers of God, the glory of the Jesus Christ gets much bigger. So often I think of the gospel as only a message of Jesus saving sinners from hell. But, the gospel is both about Christ saving sinners and about him sanctifying them towards what they were always intended to be—“little Christs.”

[Tweet “Teach your kids what they are called to in Christ, and not just what they are saved from.“]

Because of this truth, my parenting is now empowered to rebuke and exhort with patience, with the goal of teaching my girls what they are called to in Christ, and not just what they are saved from (2 Timothy 4:2).

And, prayerfully, as each one of my daughters surrenders their life in repentance and faith to Christ as their Savior, they become willing participants in the sanctification process that follows. I can tell my girls:

…To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

The Holy Spirit produces in them the communicable attributes of God, enabling them to bear God’s image rightly, which ultimately brings him glory.

3. It shapes our worldview.

Teaching my girls that they are image bearers of God sets them up to stand firm on a biblical, God-centered worldview.

If they understand that they are created in God’s image, then they will better understand what it means to have God be the Lord of their life. Instead of raising them with a humanistic perspective that inevitably robs humanity of its value, I am raising them to experience the joy of understanding that their intrinsic value comes from God’s image. Jen Wilkin says it this way:

Fullness of joy results when we seek to reflect our Maker. It is what we were created to do. It is the very will of God for our lives. (Jen Wilkin) [1]

4. It changes the way we see others.

With the image-bearer worldview, my girls will be able to see the value of others. Prayerfully, this knowledge will help them be kind, justice-seekers, defenders of the weak, and loving speakers of the truth. With the biblical perspective that all people are created in God’s image, life becomes more valuable, friendship becomes more powerful, communities become more united, and we become more compassionate (Matthew 5:14-16; Mark 16:15).

5. It fuels holy motivation for good works.

This truth challenges me to better pair discipline with instruction—to not only tell my children what not to do, but show them what they should do because God has redeemed them by sending his own Son to the cross for their sin and raised him from the dead for their new life, thus restoring the image he imprinted upon them.

I can open conversations about what God is like, how he loves, how he is righteous, truthful, patient, gracious, and full of mercy, and how we ought to strive to be like him.

And I can talk to them about how being redeemed image bearers of Jesus means we are also light bearers, calling others away from the darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

My prayer to see my girls the way God sees them was answered when God reminded me by his Word that they are made in his image.

With this knowledge, my parenting is given a renewed focus on helping them see their identity in Christ, their sanctification by the power of the Holy Spirit, and their life’s purpose with God as Lord. And I have the honor of walking alongside them as we all learn to better love others and serve God because he made us and loved us first.

[1. Jen Wilkin (2018). “In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us To Reflect His Character.”]
[Photo Credit: Lightstock]

The Author
Amy Dunham

Amy Dunham is a stay-at-home mom with three little girls, one strong husband, and a quirky schnoodle. She is author of Soul Rest: A Journey with Jesus (RBP, May 2017). While she navigates motherhood, Amy shares how the gospel of Jesus Christ ministers to moms and changes families as they trudge through the ordinary trenches of extraordinary motherhood. Follow her blog at amyrdunham.com.



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