N.T. Wright on What It Means To Be An Image Bearer
In this video conversation, N.T. Wright considers what it means to be an image bearer of God. He suggests that what the book of Genesis and the apostle Paul mean by humans reflecting the image of God is less a static picture and more of a “creative, dynamic” proposition.
To emphasize the point that bearing Christ’s image is multi-dimensional, Wright suggests the metaphor of an angled mirror as example. To contextualize this in practical terms, he recounts a childhood anecdote about being ill in bed as a child and having his mother rest an angled mirror on his bedroom door so he would be able to see the comings and goings of other family members and not feel so isolated and alone. Similarly, Wright comments, we can use this metaphor to understand what the Bible means about being an image bearer—God can reflect his love, care, and stewardship toward humans, and in turn, they can reflect God back to the world.
As such, the “image of God” is not something about us—instead, it is what we do and how we do it. That is, how we reflect God into the world—aptly described by Paul in Colossians 3:9-10: “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (ESV).