What is a human being? It seems like a simple question, but our answer reveals how we think about others and ourselves.
According to the bible humans are created beings who carry the image of God (Ge, 1:26).
Every human who has ever lived or will ever live has been created in the “imago Dei”.
This is a big and somewhat complicated theological issue, but we can say that being made in God's image means that we have inherited some of our Father's characteristics. We share some of his attributes (communicable attributes) and because of this we reflect him. For example we reflect God in our ability to make moral choices, exercising dominion over the earth, demonstrating love, create things for pleasure, and much more.
In saying this it is important to remember that Christians aren’t the only ones who have been stamped with the imago Dei. Non-christians are also created in the image of God and this means at least two things.
EVERYONE IS WORTHY OF LOVE
All humans, no matter color, ethnicity, age, gender, ability or disability have value and worth. This is why hurting another human is so wrong, it is an affront to the image of God in them, and God's ownership of them. This is one of the reasons why our children should not be mean to others. This is also why loving our neighbor is so important. They are worth loving for they are the Lord's creatures, even if they are not "his people."
“We are not to look to what men in themselves deserve but to attend to the image of God which exists in all and to which we owe all honor and love.”
- John Calvin
EVERYONE IS WORTHY OF CONDEMNATION
Ah, but there is another thing we all have in common and that is sin. Sin has corrupted everything in the world and in us. It has marred the image of God in us and in some sin has distorted the imago Dei so badly that it is hardly recognizable. The moral and the immoral, the loving and the hateful, all stand before God on their own worthy of condemnation. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Thankfully there is good news. The grace of God is seen in the fact that the imago Dei can be restored in us. It only happens through Christ, who is the perfect image of God (Col 1:15) and when he works in us (sanctification) the image of God is slowly restored.
Sometimes this is a painful process where hard-heartedness needs to be chiseled away, or the impurities in our character must be removed through refining fire.
But, because of Jesus the image of God is slowing being restored in us and someday it will be complete and we will look once again like our creator (glorification) (Eph. 4:22-24).