Theologians have coined this term because Scripture teaches us that God created man in His own image and likeness. This is such a profound truth that deserves full attention because who we are, what we do, how we live would hinge towards an understanding of how God created us.
When we miss this truth, we dehumanize people. When we don’t believe this truth, we objectify people. We can see this all around us. From porn materials, sexual trafficking, violence, human collateral damages because of war or the indifference of people to the plight of the less fortunate – this are all results of a misunderstanding of the value of human beings in light of God’s creation.
Dr. Peter Gentry writes, “Man is the divine image. As servant king and son of God, mankind will mediate God’s rule to the creation in the context of a covenant relationship with God on the one hand and the earth on the other.”
The implication of this view leads us to see mankind’s creation with an implicit and incredible destiny.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
What a task our heavenly Father has given us. Because we are created in His image and likeness, He chose to reveal who He is to us. And it did not stop there, he then gave us dominion (leadership) over every living creature on earth and commanded man to produce more. This is the start of our leadership when he gave us the power to rule over every living creature and cultivate what He has given us (Genesis 2:15)
Theologians coined this term to describe the mission of God that was revealed to the people of God who were created in His image and likeness.
When we understand imago dei, we will embrace our missio dei.