Then God said, “Let us make man 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.” (Gen 1:26 ESV). This verse is the first mention in the Bible regarding the image of God. In its simplicity, it tells us that we are set apart by God, or made holy, from every other created order—ordained to look and act like Him. Inherently speaking, humans are the legacy of God, as He has given us His likeness, authority, and methods by which we are to function as His rulers over all of His creation.
According to Merriam-Webster, the second definition of the word legacy reads, “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”
The Evans family patriarch, Dr. Anthony Tyrone Evans, is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, President of The Urban Alternative, and Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship (OCBF) church in Dallas, Texas. He and his late wife, Dr. Lois Irene Evans, gave the world Chrystal Hurst, Priscilla Shirer, Anthony T. Evans Jr., and Jonathan Evans. All four children have robust Christian ministries that are as comprehensive as their father’s, aside from Dr. Evans’s fourty-plus years in ministry. Their ministries have impacted the realms of sports, entertainment, music, and literature. Providentially, like their father, Priscilla Shirer and Jonathan Evans are graduates of Dallas Theological Seminary. What a legacy!
The Evans family can attest to Drs. Tony and Lois having a direct influence over the course of their children’s careers and ministries. Alongside education and key relationships that availed the quality of these ministries, Drs. Tony and Lois Evans gave their children the likeness of their zeal for biblical truths, work ethic, and the methods to rule their God-given territories.
It is wonderful to witness in Christendom one who has made a historical worldwide impact with their ministry. However, it is altogether remarkable to witness one who has made a historical impact in Christendom through their ministry and children by proxy. On a grand scale, it is rare to see this kind of success in ministry, where seemingly the children’s impact echoes their predecessor’s impact in literature, sports, and entertainment. The Evans family is indeed set apart in this way from other notable Christian ministries. Moreover, they are a picture of a unique kind of legacy that renders comprehensive applications for the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”—(Mat 28:19 ESV)
Dr. Tony Evans says
The image of God is humankind, mirroring the communicable attributes of God and His character. The wonderful phenomenon of God’s sovereignty is that everyone is related to God by His image. However, not everyone is related to God by spiritual regeneration. We must make a distinction between creation and relationship. All humans are created in God’s image, but not all are God’s children. Those who have expressed faith in Jesus Christ, who have believed that He is the Son of God, sent on their behalf to save them from the penalty of their sin, are God’s children.
Christian parents are to model the biblical tenets of faith. Just as Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (paraphrased), Christian parents are to create an environment for children to decide for Christ. If this model cannot be implemented biologically, it can be fostered spiritually through the church as older or mature men and women model the biblical tenets of faith for others to follow. Paul called Silas and Timothy his spiritual sons. He modeled spiritual parenting.
Spiritual parenting can also come from influencers—people who care about you physically and spiritually. People who can hold you accountable for your decisions, correct you when you are wrong, and admonish you from going down the wrong path. Spiritual parenting, along with a lifestyle of confessing your sins and repentance, will keep you holy and set apart from a way of the world that perpetually disregards and dims the image of God.
These life applications will help us effectively protect and uphold the dignity of humankind. All humankind is to be given dignity. We must respect the poor and rich person for they share the same dignity because they share the same image of God from the womb to the tomb.
We must think about how we address dignity from womb to tomb. Both the unborn baby and the person on his or her deathbed share the same dignity. The right to life must be a right to whole life, not just term-life. We must give equitable treatment to the value of life, transcending any demographic standard. When the sanctity of life is disregarded, the image of God is attacked.
To see healing in our land, the church must come together in a unified way and visibly demonstrate the value of the image of God holistically. This is why the Bible emphasizes service to the widow, orphan, and poor because it demonstrates how high we regard God’s image. God does not skip the church house to fix the White House. If restoring the dignity of humankind becomes the modus operandi for today’s church generation, then we will see a shift in our society toward honoring the image of God.
Priscilla Shirer says
The imago Dei is the reflection of God that is stamped upon humanity. This divine image establishes the intrinsic value, esteem, and dignity of every human being. In other words, the individual uniqueness seen in differing ethnicities, genders, and ages reflects the creative genius of a sovereign God and should not be devalued by any other person, system, or institution.
While every human bears God’s image, every human is not a part of God’s family. The original sin of Adam caused a devastating separation between the Father and the beings He created. However, through Jesus, that breach can be healed so that adoption can be accomplished. Each person who places faith in the only begotten of the Father—Jesus Christ—and receives the gift of salvation becomes a child of God, co-heir with Christ, and partaker of the divine nature (Rom 8:17, 2 Pet 1:4).
“The main factor that has encouraged me toward a lifestyle of holiness is an appreciation for and commitment to integrity—being the same in private as I am in public. I saw this demonstrated in the life of my parents as a child. I came to appreciate its significance the older I became.”
All life should be valued, and we must be careful not to prioritize the value of one kind of life while simultaneously (even by our silence) devaluing another. Believers must passionately decry injustice toward the unborn while being equally passionate and vocal about injustice toward the disenfranchised and abused. Our goal should be to restore dignity, equity, and justice to every boy, girl, man, and woman in every corner of the earth.
Jonathan Evans says
By virtue of God’s sovereignty, plan, and purpose for humanity, God displays His image through all people so that it can be replicated. Christ said, “Go therefore and make disciples”.This is the application of His design for humanity—a replication of His rule, dominion, power, and holiness. Unfortunately, we live in an age where the rule of humans repels God instead of pulling in His presence.
Aside from the countless heroes of the Faith, the church is largely siloed. It is supposed to be the salt of the world, but it is inside of a saltshaker. It’s failing to touch a decaying world because it is failing to respect the image of God. Some christians have become more political than godly. This past year and election should be an alarm to wake up to the decay that surrounds us all. God does not take sides among humanity; He takes over. The church needs to follow suit and reclaim a rule that pulls in the presence of God and stop seeking to partner with human government.
To pull in the presence of God, we must begin by accepting our identity as image-bearers. This is the difference between a created being and someone who has given themselves to the Creator. We are all image-bearers, but not everyone has accepted Christ as their sin-bearer. It is the distinction between creation and salvation.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but my parents pulled in the presence of God for us at a very early age from the spirit of Psalm 128. This passage starts with the individual, moves to the family, church, and society. My dad raised us around the dinner table under this outline. He used this time as an opportunity for leading and not just eating. We had Bible study, we were asked about our feelings, school, and social lives, and we had to act and behave with skills that prepared us to thrive in an adult society”.
The consistency of ruling as an image-bearer of God will prepare those you rule over to do the same thing. Instead of allowing those whom you rule over to be swallowed up by the rigors of ministry, the presence of God will allow them to experience ministry as a unique and one-of-a-kind image-bearer.
Unfortunately, our culture is not conducive for people to relate to each other as image-bearers of God. We relate to one another by our own expectations, through our own experiences and history. We judge from within our own silo instead of the position we all hold as image-bearers. We are failing to consider everyone’s unique perspective.
“And that’s what my dad did well. He knew that there was a uniqueness in all of us. He knew God was inexhaustible even though we were all created in His image. He knew God had an inexhaustible supply of gifts to be used in an inexhaustible way for kingdom advancement. He never pressed us one way. He nurtured all of us according to our bend, gifts, and talents.”
When you understand God’s image in a way that allows you to see that there will never be another you or anyone else, it helps you function better in whatever role you occupy in service to people.
About the Contributors
As a native of Houston, TX., Rebecca S. Walton began her seminary journey at DTS Houston. She loves people and is passionate about communicating Bible doctrine, current events, and Christian Living stories.