In the Image of God
Did you know that you bear the image of God within you? Every person born on this earth is endowed with a place in his or her personhood that has an inclination toward God. You might call it your conscience or a sense of right and wrong.
Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that when the Godhead created the earth and all that lives on it, "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;' ...God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
God's emphasis is very clear: He made us in His image. That means we have personality with the ability to view and evaluate ourself as being a distinct entity in the universe apart from everything else. We also have the ability to evaluate ourself and say, "This is what I am." Having realized we can see ourself as distinct from everything else in the universe and furthermore, that we can distinguish our own peculiarity from among everyone else, we lastly have the ability to make a decision and act on it.
Being endowed with the ability to make a decision is an awesome gift from God. Theologians call it free will. God never intended to move us like a puppeteer moves dolls on strings. Much more beautifully, He gave man intelligence and then a wealth of information about Himself visible in the intricacies of the universe and written in His dictated roadmap called the Holy Bible. Man can look at and evaluate himself according to what he sees in the world around him and what he reads in God's written words and make a conscious decision to move toward God and away from his arch enemy, the devil.
Probably you never thought about the image of God and what it means to you. You were born with it. It is an integral part of your personality that you call 'you.' It is there, indivisible from the rest of your being, so you can tinker with it and either pay attention to what it says to you, ignore it, or utterly crush it from your consciousness...but it remains nonetheless.
It will come back and haunt you from time to time in your life when you least expect it to be there. Some theologians call it God's prevenient grace. What it means is that God tries to direct your attention to Him in unguarded moments in your life like the miraculous preservation of your life in a serious car accident...or perhaps a sudden gift of money when you're in a financial bind. What you do with those signals, inclinations and urges toward God determines the direction your life-pathway turns.
It can go in one of two ways: toward God and truly coming to know Him in His personhood or rejecting that way for one which strokes your ego and appears to be an easier journey. Either way, your will is involved in the direction you take. No one else can make those decisions for you.
For those individuals who follow the positive road signs God posts along their life-route, God says, "If we walk in the light, as He Himself in in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin" (I John 1:7). God continues to give us more and more light and urging to know Him more and more along the way until we finally make it to heaven. Jesus said of Himself, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life: no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6).
On the other hand, when happenings try to move us toward God and His way, but we choose to walk away from Him and reject those voices heard deep in the confines of our soul, we harden our heart and our will against God. Continually practiced, that habit can lock us into a destiny spent in hell, apart from God and His presence forever.
What makes hell so awful is that the person on earth and that same person in hell are not one and the same! Some folks joke about playing cards with their friends in hell...that it will be one big brawl. No, my friend, it will be more like one big bawl!!
The image of God that presently you treat with total disregard is not yours to keep if you choose hell. God removes it from you, so in hell you are not your total self. All that is left when God's image is removed is your despicable self, ugly, self-willed and self-absorbed, but unable to satisfy your desires, because hell is harsh and unforgiving.
For all eternity, that voice, that inclination to worship God will be absent and missing from your person. You may long for one more chance to know Him and you may vow that if it is granted, you will follow God completely...but, guess what, that opportunity is gone forever. Your lifetime on earth is the testing ground where God gives you time and occasion to turn to Him. If you fail the test, it's too late to redeem the time you lost.
Ezekiel 11:23 describes an awful scene witnessed by the prophet that will be repeated by you if you choose to make hell your final destination: "The glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city..." and once that glory is gone, you are left with nothing except remorse and the complicated, hateful personality you built by your will bent against God. What will it be? Only you can determine the answer!