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The Big Question: What Does It Mean to Be Made in the Image of God?

The Book of Genesis says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him” (Genesis 1:21 NIV). But what does that mean for us? Here are some musings on this question from philosophers, authors, pastors and more.

The Book of Genesis says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him” (Genesis 1:21 NIV). But what does that mean for us? What does it mean to be made in the image of God? Here are some musings on this question from philosophers, authors, pastors and more.


1 of 11/

Craig D. Lounsbrough, professional counselor and author

“Look in the mirror. Go ahead and look yet again. And look not at the reflection, for while this body of yours is marvelously complex in ways that continue to elude the reach of modern science, it is but a simple shell that holds the image of God within you. And if the shell is that grand, how much more what God has placed inside of it.”

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2 of 11/

Thomas Merton, monk and theologian

“To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.”

Martin Luther King leading a march from Selma to Montgomery.

3 of 11/

Martin Luther King Jr., pastor and civil rights leader

“The whole concept of the imago dei, as it is expressed in Latin, the ‘image of God,’ is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected. Not that they have substantial unity with God, but that every man has a capacity to have fellowship with God. And this gives him a uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity.”


4 of 11/

Herman Bavinck, author of Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation

“Nothing in humanity is excluded from God’s image; it stretches as far as our humanity does and constitutes our humanness. The human is not the divine self but is nevertheless a finite creaturely impression of the divine.”



5 of 11/

Philosopher Jean Paul Gustave Ricœur

“We readily believe that the image of God is simply an imprint like the worker’s trademark; we then discuss among ourselves in order to know whether, in the economy of sin, this mark has worn away and to what degree, and whether only lightly or totally. But what should happen if we should invert this metaphor, if we should see the image of God not as an imposed mark but as the striking power of human creativity; if we treat it not as the residual trace of a craftsman who has abandoned his work to the ravages of time, but as a continuous act in the creative movement of history and duration?”


6 of 11/

St. John of Kronstadt

“Never confuse the person, formed in the image of God, with the evil that is in him: because evil is but a chance misfortune, an illness, a devilish reverie. But the very essence of the person is the image of God, and this remains in him despite every disfigurement.”


7 of 11/

John Calvin

“[God] has impressed his image in us and has given us a common nature, which should incite us to providing one for the other. The man who wishes to exempt himself from providing for his neighbors should face himself and declare that he no longer wishes to be a man, for as long as we are human creatures we must contemplate as in a mirror our face in those who are poor, despised, exhausted, who groan under their burdens.”


8 of 11/

Michel Quoist, French theologian

“We are not God. We are simply the image of God and our task is gradually to discover that image and set it free.”


9 of 11/

A.W. Tozer

“The widest thing in the universe is not space; it is the potential capacity of the human heart. Being made in the image of God, it is capable of almost unlimited extension in all directions. And one of the world’s greatest tragedies is that we allow our hearts to shrink until there is room in them for little besides ourselves.”


10 of 11/

Pope Benedict XVI

“God is not solitude, but perfect communion. For this reason the human person, the image of God, realizes himself or herself in love, which is a sincere gift of self.”


11 of 11/

John Eldredge, author of The Journey of Desire: Searching for the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of

“We are made in the image of God; we carry within us the desire for our true life of intimacy and adventure. To say we want less than that is to lie.”

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Walking in Grace 2023 Devotional

We wanted to let you know that we have changed the name of Daily Guideposts to Walking in Grace —(Don’t worry — we promise it is the ONLY change we’ve made!)

Walking in Grace 2023 is the perfect way to start or end each day, focusing on God’s love, and connecting you to a community of writers and readers. Each daily devotion will bless you with a short Scripture verse that draws you into His word, a true moving story about the joys and challenges of living a life of faith, hope, and optimism, a short personal prayer that helps you put the day’s message to work in your own life, and a unique “Digging Deeper” Scripture for further reflection.

In just a few minutes a day, Walking in Grace 2023 will help you find the spiritual richness you long for in your life.

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