@Tehetena_Zarou Hi! The truth that we are made in the image of GOD I believe is not the complete or total value of the package.
Our total value rest in the love GOD has for mankind. That is a head scratcher even for the angels. What did GOD see in mankind that He was mindful of them? Your friend may be somewhat correct.
The love of GOD has a multitude of adjectives we use to describe it. But, none of our adjectives can explain the whys. It is truly the greatest of mysteries. It is not simplistic, because it is so beyond our ability to define. Humankind has no form of that kind of love. Just great imitations. We can love but without the “ommpapa” of GOD’s heart, our love is subject to acts that betray its intentions. On our best days, we are still human.
Why do we become depressed, or suicidal, or afflicted in our souls? I think the best way to explain that is to remember in Eden what separated Adam and Eve from the home that was made for them. What separated them from a life free of death, pain, and misery? It is the same thing that caused the downfall of satan. They tried to be God. In our busy, we forget our need. We have cursed this planet and we minimize our own lives when we forget who GOD is. When we forget to trust GOD.
The old hymn says it well. “Oh what needless pain we bare, all because we do not carry, everything to GOD in prayer.” (Joseph M. Scriven, 1855)
Is this life a painful reality, yes most certainly; it’s a fallen world. But when we maintain relationship with the Creator of all life; even the pain serves a good purpose. Jesus is the do-over. The bridge over all troubled waters. The last makeover this world will be given.
Christians are not removed from the effects of living in a fallen world, we are lifted above the effect. We cry and hurt, bleed and die like all GOD’s creation. We, will not move beyond the limits of our mortal bodies until we have been changed. That begins here, in a relationship with GOD.
We can walk through this life with crazy joy, peace, grace, victory beyond all reason, and the hope of our future. But only if we remember to Let the mind dwell in us that is in Christ Jesus. That may not be simplistic, but it is well worth the effort.
@Tehetena_Zarou Thank you for this question. I think @cer7 made some excellent points about how God’s amazing love for us demonstrated through Jesus should give us hope, joy and strength even in this broken, fallen and messy world. Regarding your friend’s question about the image of God and why Christians suffer depression, I think your friend has made a categorical error. Even unbelievers have value because they are made in God’s image. The question of whether or not being image bearers of God gives us intrinsic worth is completely separate from the question of why Christians suffer depression. Consider this verse from James:
James 3:9-10 - With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
All people are made in God’s image and therefore all people have value in God’s sight. That is why murder and false witness and slander are always wrong - not just against Christians, but against all people. That is why we stand up for the rights of the oppressed and the poor and for the unborn.
Now that we have considered this categorical error and recognized that all humans have worth because they are made in God’s image, let us consider why a Christian may suffer depression.
Christians and Depression
While Christians have the hope of full redemption, we still live in a fallen world. Jesus even says, “In this world you will suffer, but do not be afraid, for I have conquered the world” (John 16:33) and God promises in Revelation to “wipe every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21:4). Even Jesus wept!
Historically the Church has sometimes been too quick to point to one cause of depression. In reality, sometimes a depressed person just needs a weekend out in the woods. Sometimes they need to exercise more. Sometimes they need to remember God’s promises and spend more time in worship / prayer. Sometimes they need medication. Sometimes it may be a combination.
Sadness and brokenness are part of this fallen world and even men like King David and Job and Elijah suffered times of extreme emotional anguish. Here are a few resources that I thought would be helpful in understanding depression from a Christian perspective.
"One feature of this work that particularly commends it is its balance and moderation. Take, for example, the question, “what are the causes of depression?” Murray is unwilling to say that depression’s causes are exclusively physical (brain chemistry), spiritual (demon possession or personal sin), or mental (an overactive imagination). In company with the Puritans, Murray rightly recognizes the often unfathomable interrelations of mind and body, concluding that depression’s causes may be manifold, complex, and elusive.
If depression’s cause(s) are complex, then so also are its cures. Murray identifies four areas that together comprise what he calls a “‘package’ of healing”: lifestyle, false thoughts, brain chemistry, spiritual life (70-86). None should be considered to the exclusion of the others. Each should be part of a comprehensive approach to one’s own or to another’s depression."
" Depression is often viewed as a persistent feeling of sadness. Of course, it is okay to be sad. We live in a world of pain (Genesis 3:14–19; Romans 8:20–22), and Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus (John 11:35). There is no need to always put on a happy face and pretend that things are okay when they are not.
There are many biblical examples of men of God struggling with sadness, even to the point of depression. David wrote, “Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll—are they not in your record?” (Psalm 56:8). David, a “man after [God’s] own heart” (Acts 13:22), did not gloss over his sadness; he expressed it to God. Both Moses (Numbers 11:15) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:3–5), two heroes of the faith, confessed to God that they preferred to die than live in their current reality. Neither was rebuked by God for his feelings; rather, both were met with God’s love and provision. The Bible is not shy about admitting the realities of human emotion. Sadness is part of life, and it is not condemned.
As believers, we are exhorted to see the greater reality of God’s plan even in the midst of our sadness and depression. Yes, this world is fallen and often painful. It can be depressing. But God is far greater. He is at work, victoriously. Moses and Elijah received God’s provision and experienced His refreshing. Shortly after pouring out his sadness, David praised God. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
May the Lord Jesus give you understanding and insight regarding this matter. If any of these ideas are unclear, please ask follow up questions and lets continue the discussion. I think it is an important one.
Thanks for asking this question here, especially because I can see such compassion for your friend. That’s rare. @SeanO really explained it well. Perhaps this article could just add a thought on what it means to be made in the image of God.
I wonder if your friend wasn’t necessarily wrestling with theology, but rather was asking for a deeper level of help within their question. Maybe your friend is in a place right now where they don’t think they deserve to be made in the image of God, or maybe they are seeking someone to give more than an answer, but rather to walk with them for a bit? Sean mentioned how Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus, and that passage has been convicting as I’ve wrestled with it the last few days. Jesus never chastised Mary and Martha for calling him out on being late. He cried with them in their struggles and welcomed their heartfelt conversation. Because God’s glory had been framed in the context of human suffering, they could more loudly celebrate God’s restoration. Sometimes, though it feels as if God’s timing is painful, yet I have to remind myself it is perfect.
Walking with the broken-hearted is an area I’m still actively searching and studying. There were a lot of helpful responses from Connect scholars in this thread. I would love to learn more about your conversation with your friend. Praying for you!
Christians are tempted to be depressed and discouraged like everyone else. The accuser makes sure we hear what he is accusing us of before God. If we do not think about who we are and what God has done for us we will not benefit from what we know and believe.
I’m currently reading Henry Cloud’s book “Changes That Heal.” He speaks a lot about this throughout the book. Early in the book he explains:
“All of our problems stem from our failure to reflect the image of God. Because of Adam and Eve’s fall into sin in the Garden of Eden, we have not developed the “likeness” of God in the vital areas of our person, and we are not functioning as we were created to function. Thus, we are in pain.”
According to Dr. Cloud, our emotional and spiritual problems must be seen viewed together for real healing change to take place–through grace, truth, and time.
Sometimes our problems stem from a life where there was grace, but no truth (example: permissive upbringing with no accountability). Or, from an upbringing with no grace (example: rigid, judgemental legalistic environment with little or no forgiveness–performance oriented). Or an imbalance or inconsistency of grace and truth. Without both we will not have a healthy wholeness where we develop and can nurture ourselves as image bearers.
Book was written back in the 1980’s, but I’m finding it very helpful and current. The more you read the more you find yourself having “a-ha” moments of understanding.
Dr. Cloud makes if very clear that there’s nothing simplistic about our complex emotions and misunderstandings of who we are and who we can be in light of God’s grace and truth (both critical to understanding, owning and embracing God’s love).
I believe this is crucial and I see it all around me in young people who seem to be lost …like sheep without a shepherd"
Even though I have been a christian for almost all my life ,this concept of knowing I have value because i am made in the image of God has struck me to the core realise I actually have to ,as you say,purposely think and remind myself about it.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone could realise the depth of what that means?
As a christian yes I can get depressed or stressed beyond what i can bear but the very fact that I am created in the image of the creator acts like a life line
…I have value… .
just reminding myself of this can tide me over whatever challenge I am facing… reminding myself of this can be the anchor in mine and hopefully anyone’s l life…
I think youve het the nail on the head.
there is so much more goiing on,more hurt ,more pain ,in a persons heart that I find it difficult to know what to say.
I need to listen more. I read a book recently where I first learned of the term " listen with your eyes"
I loved the thought of listening with my eyes,keeping quiet …One day Ill get there:)
I have not taken up this conversation with my friend again but hope to do so after the second session of the everyday questions bible study which continues with the question of origin and Imago dei.
In the link you sent i came across a passage saying that when God redeems a person he restores them to their original image… I thought that was beautiful.Thanks
I’m still in the middle of the book, but here’s what I’m getting thus far. We have a true self and a false self. Often to cope in our world we present to the world a false self, one that hides in shame the things others would find objectionable. Those things where we tell ourselves, “if people knew the real me inside they would never…” So we live with these hidden areas where we feel shame and guilt. Though we are not actually hiding anything from God, we try–ignoring the dark corners of our soul. Until we choose to admit these hidden things, before God and others (a safe person or group), these areas cannot be healed. We can try all kinds of things to feel better, but until we are ready and willing to reveal them we are not allowing them to be presented and redeemed with either grace or truth. Dr. Cloud says it’s key to understand that these are both spiritual and emotional problems that need healing.
When we can find the courage to open up about these things then God’s light with grace and truth can begin the process of real healing. It will take time, because the imprint of these things on our soul and the interconnectedness of a lifetime of emotional patterns need to find a new order in our “true” self. It’s our true self where we can flourish in the reality of being an image bearer.
The book makes a great deal of sense. Not sure that my description is doing it justice.
But my mind wanders to those who are not Christians or who are Christians but are in difficult life situations,how then can we talk to them about the mind of Christ and imago dei?
How do we explain that everyone ( including the serial rapist or child molester ) is created in the image of God.
How do I explain that to someone who has been hurt as a child or been raped s an adult???
Sometimes i really need to hang on to Gods word for dear life because I do find myself floundering… how much more will hurting people flounder?
@ Tehetena. Let me preface what I would like to say by apologizing for not having a better command in the disciplines of knowledge and psychology. There are many individuals in this format who have command of these skills. (Oh where are you SeanO and company. smiles.)
But I think I can hear the anguish of others in your questions. Even if I could not, I know of my own sorrow and pain. This one thing of which I am confident, is the fluidity of the Spirit of GOD. I can attest to the many times and ways it has rescued me.
In my experience, the first order of my healing starts with addressing my grief. I went through a time from 2012 - 2018 when I suffered the painful rejection of people who said they loved me but went out of their way to be hateful, and hurtful. When I approached the Lord with bitter tears, showing Him my despair even as I tried to recover from a stroke. GOD was faithful. I freely wept, words failed me. GOD listened.
After I had cried and begin to deal with anger and the desire to destroy or hurt them than He began to counsel my soul. He invited me to declare when He had ever treated me with hate and the promise of destruction. That got my attention. I wanted to blame him for the behaviors of others, to which He replied. The confidence you extended to them, belonged only to me. Now, you want to hurt and destroy them because they are true to the sinful and human nature?
He explained that if my dependency was going to be given to another human, then I had foregone the right to not be hurt. Because, on our best days we hurt one another. I rose to that challenge and became blessed with the courage to forgive. Forgiveness was for me, they were GOD’s problem to correct, not mine’s.
I hasten to say, I have known GOD for many years so His communication with me fits my awareness of Him. GOD is a customizer. He will customize the deliverance for each individual. It is all in Jesus but it is unique to each person and situation.
So, I probably would not try to explain the serial rapist, child molester, backstabbing, lying, family or friend. I would not try to explain the fruit of sin in anyone’s heart.
There is only one way to see the vengeance of the Lord at work. It becomes crucial for my healing and wholeness to get out of the way. To allow GOD to merit out justice, without a requirement that He hate my enemy.
That can only happen when I allow vengeance to be GOD’s. That happens when I allow the hurt to be GOD’s. I would encourage anyone to search out what GOD has for them, and them alone.
I would explain that being in the image of GOD gives us form and identity. It does not guarantee that we are anything like GOD intended. Pain and difficulty are taught as obstacles to the good that GOD intended. But GOD uses it all. Every glorious and painful bit of it! All the sorrow, all the tears, even the heart filled with bitterness and hate. GOD can use it all if we would just love him.
We wrestle not against flesh and blood. But the first step to recovery when we encounter the battle lies in our willingness to give it all to GOD. To hold nothing in reserve. To consistently give the Lord our misery, our tears, our pain, our horrors.
GOD is so patient. He is in no rush. The mind of Christ will come when we have made room by emptying our pain upon the Lord. First thing first. Imagery is a logical second.
It’s a tricky issue to be sure. One thing that helps me here is the understanding that, while Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, they were not created with a sin nature. They were not conceived in sin, and therefore did not have to sin. That’s the unblemished Imago Dei. However, after the Fall every other human being on the planet was indeed conceived in sin. The divine image is now blemished, not operating as it should, just like the planet we live on. God did not create me or you (or the child molester) so that we could sin. But in his infinite agape love, created us to be reconciled to Him and fix the mar of sin on our image. This is why the born again are “new creations”. The image is corrected. Now when the world looks at us, they do not see the sin we committed and attribute it to God, but the image of the One who saved us.
Now, can we mess that up? Unfortunately, yes. Christians still sin. But the good news is that we can still talk about His grace in the midst of that, and point others to Him that they might experience that grace too.
This is an interesting article on “acedia” a condition that was identified in 4th century by monks in desert monasteries.
"The demon of acedia – also called the noonday demon – is the one that causes the most serious trouble of all. . . . He makes it seem that the sun barely moves, if at all, and . . . he instills in the heart of the monk a hatred for the place, a hatred for his very life itself."
@Tehetena_Zarou Good question. Perhaps if someone has suffered great harm, we should start by helping them to heal rather than jumping straight to recognizing how the perpetrator is made in God’s image? We need to meet people where they are at - if they are in need of healing, we should focus more on helping rebuild their own heart / strength - weeping with those who weep. And challenge them later once they have regained their strength. What are your thoughts?
Proverbs 25:11 - Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.
Although I’ve been really trying it seems as if Im up against a Wall and have been unable to get her to watch the second session.
Sometimes I see a possibility but it closes up…
Im going to keep on trying by Gods grace and I think Ill be better prepared to listen WELL second
Hang in there. It’s simultaneously one of our biggest reassurances but also a huge leap of faith to know only God, not our own efforts, can save our friends. I’m only just beginning to learn this after several years. Praying you can remain encouraged- no matter if it’s watering or harvesting!! Sometimes I’ve found this link helpful when sending to someone hurting because it shares Christian wisdom without being openly preachy. https://list.ly/list/1CE4-looking-up-from-the-stubborn-darkness