Part One: Created in God’s Image : Genesis 1:26-28
The Presbyterian Church in America publishes By Faith Magazine, which you can read online at evergreenpca.com. In a recent issue, Stephanie Hubach, member of our sister congregation, Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ephrata, PA, wrote an article titled, “The Dignity of Every Human.” Listen to the first three paragraphs:
Flipping through the newspaper on a quiet Sunday afternoon, my eyes fell on an article entitled “The Toll of Alzheimer’s Disease” by syndicated columnist Dr. Peter H. Gott. Since a close friend from church suffers from an early-onset form of dementia, I was eager to read the piece. Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia are, undoubtedly, dreadful diseases for both recipients and their family members. Due to the degenerative nature of these disabling conditions the road is long, the effects are heart-breaking, and the outcome is certain.
As Christians, when we encounter this type of struggle it should call forth our deepest compassion, inspire us to provide practical supports, and encourage us to invest in ethically-based preventative research. But there is also a point at which we must be careful in our thinking. Listen to Gott’s description of end-stage Alzheimer’s disease—but most importantly, listen to the conclusion that he makes from his observations: “This eventually ends in a catastrophe: extreme confusion, loss of judgment, inability to recognize loved ones, belligerency, and the failure to be able to carry out everyday chores and activities of daily living (including bathing, dressing and eating). In the truest sense of the word, the advanced Alzheimer’s patient has lost all the qualities that make him or her human [emphasis mine].”
How many people read that article and never noticed that last line? Isn’t there a difference between the valued experiences of being human and the essence of our humanness? According to the columnist, the essence of our humanity can be reduced to a simple formula: If you can stay focused, have good judgment, connect with your family, be cooperative, complete your chores, and take care of yourself—then you are human. If you can’t—then you are not. How many typical teenagers do you know who could meet those criteria? On a much more serious note—how many individuals with profound developmental disabilities could meet those criteria? Do you see what is happening? Do you hear the whisper? Our humanity is being redefined, and we don’t even realize it. What do the Scriptures have to say about this? How is our humanity defined? And why does it matter?
While, hopefully, most Christians would respond that “human beings are unique because we are created in God’s image,” it is often difficult for people to describe what that actually means. This occurs, in part, because we miss the big picture. We fail to recognize the significance of the doctrine of the image of God in the overarching story of Scripture. When you view the meta-narrative of Scripture, the grand story is one of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. And the image of God is central to that story. At Creation, the image of God was intact. As a result of the Fall, the image of God became distorted. In the process of Redemption, the image of God is being restored more and more. And in the Consummation of all things, when the coming kingdom is here in its fullness, the image of God will be fully complete in every redeemed child of the King.
In four sermons I intend to survey the biblical presentation of Humanity made in the image of God, focusing on four texts. The first is Genesis 1:26-28.
First of all we discover that God pre-meditated his creation of Humanity in his image. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together willed this creation and then did it.
But what does it mean that Humanity is made in God’s image? As Richard Pratt asks, “Are we gods or lucky mud?” What does it mean to be made in the image of God? Our second discovery in the text helps to answer this question: Humanity is like God in some aspects. In this context, “image” and “likeness” are basically synonymous. John Frame in his article, “Men and Women in the Image of God,” which you can read in full at monergism.com, writes, “An image resembles and represents the one it pictures.” Frame suggests that we resemble God in three ways:
1) Our entire human nature resembles God. Frame clarifies that while we do not resemble all aspects of God, everything about us in some way resembles God. He writes, “I would infer that everything we are reflects God in some way, though of course everything we are is also different from God! Our souls, bodies, reason, will, goodness are like God, but also unlike Him, for He is the Creator, paradigm and infinite exemplar of these qualities. Even sin images God in perverse sorts of ways. In sinning, Eve sought to be like God (Genesis 3:5), not by imitating His goodness, but by coveting His prerogatives. And all sin is moral decision, a faculty that we share uniquely with God and the angels.
So human nature itself is the image of God. But more must be said. The fact that we image God in the totality of our being does not discourage but rather encourages us to find more specific kinds of correspondence. So we move ahead.”
2) Our moral excellence resembles God. This point is best developed in subsequent sermons as we will consider the New Testament teaching of the renewal of moral excellence in a person transformed by Christ’s Spirit. But Frame does make one vital point from the Old Testament, namely, that the Old Testament authors never say that in Humanity’s fall the image of God was lost to the race. And so, Humanity, even at its worst, retains the ability and capacity for moral excellence.
3) Our moral agency resembles God. We are able to apply our moral excellence, our virtuous character, to our work and all of life. We do so through a rational process, through language, through ingenuity. Genesis 1:26-28 seems to highlight this aspect of the image of God in us. Here we begin to move from resemblance of God to representing God.
We are made in God’s image, resembling God, and so we rule over creation, representing God. God has dominion over all his creation and he has appointed Humanity to have dominion over the animals, over the entire earth. We become the hands and feet to do the work of God upon earth. We are his representatives in the management and care of the environment and the animals that live in it with us.
Anthony Hoekema in his classic book, Created in God’s Image, writes, “Man is not only creature, he is also a person. And to be a person means to have a kind of independence – not absolute but relative. To be a person means to be able to make decisions, to set goals, and to move in the direction of those goals. It means to possess freedom – at least in the sense of being able to make one’s own choices. The human being is not a robot whose course is totally determined by forces outside of him; he has the power of self-determination and self-direction….In sum the human being is both a creature and a person….This is the central mystery of man….To be a creature, as we have see, means absolute dependence upon God; to be a person means relative independence.” As you know, Hoekema is merely expounding what the Reformed creeds have noted about the personhood of humanity. The Westminster Confession of Faith includes a chapter titled, “Of Free Will.” It is a concise presentation of St. Augustine’s presentation of the human will. Listen to this:
God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined to good or evil. II. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which is good and well-pleasing to God; but yet mutably, so that he might fall from it. III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto. IV. When God converts a sinner and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and, by his grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that, by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil. V. The will of man is made perfectly and immutable free to good alone, in the state of glory only.
The gospel is clearly presented in this summary. God frees us from sin to return us more and more to that free condition in which he created us. But nothing in our experience compares to that freedom he has planned for our eternal glory. God has created us in his image and nothing can remove this personhood from us, just as nothing can relieve us of being creatures. Both connect us to God. As creatures, we seek God for we are dependent upon him, under his control and at his mercy. As persons, we reflect God in beauty, goodness, and truth, but especially in the freedom we exercise and enjoy. And so, we have been made for God, to accomplish his purposes and to glorify his Person.
Part Two: The Value of Humanity and Every Living Creature
God has created Humanity in the divine image and so the value placed upon each and every member of the human race is inestimable. After the great Flood, God blessed Noah and his family, giving to them the same mandate he had given to Adam and Eve. Humanity is to be “fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” From Cain to Noah, murder and all sorts of destructive sin escalated. Humanity, on a whole scale, had scorned the value of the human person, and so God added these words regarding the killing of a human being: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.” The reason for this severe penalty for murder is immediately supplied, “for God made man in his own image.” When a person kills another person, he takes the life of one made in God’s image. In doing so, he fails to acknowledge and to honor the inestimable value of his fellow human being. More significantly, he fails to acknowledge and honor God, who has created Humanity in his image.
Anthony Hoekema clearly exposits Genesis 9:6 as he writes,
“The reason that no human being may shed man’s blood, the passage says, is that man has unique value, a value that is not to be attributed to any other of God’s creatures: namely, that he is an image-bearer of God. Precisely because he is such an image-bearer, not was one in the past, or might be in the future, is it so great a sin to kill him.”
This text is significant in forming our biblical view of our whole being – body and soul made in God’s image. The first great lesson from this text is this: We are made in God’s image, not only our souls but body and soul. Do you find it odd that the image of God is so closely connected in these words to the flesh and blood of the human body? John Calvin identified the human soul to be the primary seat of the image of God but he wrote that the sparks of the image of God glow in both the body and soul of humanity. Herman Bavinck wrote,
“Man’s body also belongs to the image of God….The body is not a tomb but a wondrous masterpiece of God, constituting the essence of man as fully as the soul…it belongs so essentially to man that, though through sin it is violently torn away from the soul in death, it is nevertheless again united with the soul in the resurrection.”
The inestimable value of the human being body and soul has a profound impact upon how we form opinions and convictions about the taking of human life. What is my view of manslaughter, murder, abortion, and euthanasia? In my convictions and actions do I acknowledge and honor the image of God in Humanity? Many of us today would define Humanity purely in terms of body. Perhaps we think that only a fully formed body is human. Have you ever tried to answer a question like this one: What is the difference between the human brain and the human mind? What about the human soul? And what about the human body? What about the amputee, the Alzheimer victim, and the person with Downs Syndrome? Are they image-bearers of God?
In her article, “The Dignity of Every Human,” published in By Faith Magazine, Stephanie Hubach writes:
So why does the image of God matter? For me, that question hit home on January 5, 1992, when, after the birth of my second son, the pediatrician announced, “We believe Timothy has a chromosomal abnormality.” My passion was for academia, and now I had a newborn son who had an intellectual disability. What did that say about him? And about me? Timmy’s entrance into my life caused me to reevaluate my yardstick of human value. The doctrine of the image of God provides us with an understanding of not only the basis for human value—but also establishes the basis for respect, equality and interdependence, our purpose in life, and our role in restoration.
Not only does the image of God provide the basis for human value, but it is also fundamental to the issue of respect. Respect-based relationships are grounded on two pillars: grace and the image of God. We can only enter into respectful relationships when we keep both of these elements in balance. Grace allows us to deal with the brokenness in our lives and the lives of others, while the image of God allows us to relate on the basis of our shared, precious value endowed at Creation.
Robin is a 52-year-old adult woman with Down syndrome. When she goes out to eat in restaurants, waitresses often ask her parents what she wants to eat. Robin’s spunky response is to say, “I’m over here!” We cannot have truly meaningful relationships with others unless we inherently respect them. And that is, in part, based on the image of God.
Stephanie correctly moves us from value to respect. This respect is featured in our second point: The law of God teaches us to respect one another as human beings made in the image of God. Our problem with respect for one another begins with our struggle to respect God. The real problem in the biblical text before us is that this command, prohibiting the killing of another human being, is given by God who destroyed all of Humanity except for one family! In Genesis 6 we read, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.’”
Left to the freedom of their own wills, human beings escalate evil. The text repeats the two words, “violence” and “corruption.” Violence destroys the creative work of God including the image-bearers of God. Corruption twists and perverts the creative work of God including the image-bearers. God sent the great Flood to drown this violence and corruption. In his justice to put all things right, he destroyed a countless number of human beings made in his own image. That’s the problem many of us have with the biblical text.
Not only do we find it difficult to respect God, but we find it difficult to respect one another. How can so many human beings follow an ancient code, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” practicing capital punishment? Does taking the life of a murderer effectively deter murder? How can I respect my fellow human beings who would advocate the killing of a murderer?
The Bible teaches that there is an appropriate though sober time to take human life. When a person or a group of human beings have set out to destroy human life, they have committed a high crime against Humanity and against God who created Humanity in his image. Such a person deserves death not only as a deterrent of crime but also as a just preservation of the human race and the holiness of God. In a most sober way, capital punishment presents the inestimable value of the human being and commands us to respect the image of God in each other.
The problem is only greater as we come to the climax of redemptive history and discover that Jesus Christ, the one man in whom the image of God shines without any limit or defect, is murdered by fellow human beings. This perfect bearer of the image of God is made by God to be the ultimate bearer of human sin, a just target for divine wrath. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.” The gospel that declares our freedom and purity in Christ is connected at the roots to this just taking of life to preserve life. In a most sober way, the cross of Christ declares the inestimable value of the human being and commands us to respect the image of God in each other.
Finally, we discover that God has a relationship of value with all creatures establishing his covenant of preservation not only with humanity but also with the animals. Therefore, we are to fulfill our God-given calling to care for the animals and all of creation.
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
God has kept his promise to protect and to preserve his creation. In the end he will make it all new. His restoration will be complete. God has commanded Humanity to care for all living creatures, to protect, preserve, and to manage the animal kingdom. The image of God shines brightly in any human being who lovingly carries out this divine mandate. The image of God is marred when any one of us treats an animal cruelly or wastefully. It is not that an animal is made in the image of God but rather that we are and so we should act according to the divine image within us.
In Far Side, Gary Larson drew a panel of a dog looking up into the face of his master and he is thinking, “My master feeds me and takes care of me. He must be God.” The second panel features a cat who is thinking, “That person feeds me and takes care of me. I must be God.” Every time we care for an animal we should remember that we are displaying the image of God within us as we obey the commands of the one, true God.
Part Three: New Creation in God’s Image
Ephesians 4: 20-24
Those of us who have heard about Christ and have been taught to follow him have experienced a most surprising and welcome change. The Apostle Paul refers to the result of this change as “the new self” or the “new creation.” The image of God is growing within us spilling out into our behavior, more and more visible to people around us.
The human race has been self-destructive. We reach for the stars only to over-extend falling facedown in the mud. Imagine a five-year old boy on tip-toe, one foot on the top rung of a step ladder, with one arm fully extended over his head, reaching for a star. His fingertip nearly connects to the lower beams of light. He loses his balance and falls. Our first parents Adam and Eve over-extended. Left to the freedom of their own wills, they chose to be like God on their own terms usurping his unique position and privilege. Attempting to improve their position by acquiring the knowledge of good and evil, they actually secured the self-destruction of their race.
Humanity’s fall was devastating. Every human faculty was damaged. Not only the brain but also the mind was damaged.
-Not only the heart but also the emotions. Most certainly the human will was damaged. The spirit of humanity was devastated so that to this very day, a countless number of our race lives without hope, peace, and joy. Stephanie Hubach writes,
“Consider specifically how the Fall has touched humankind, and we realize that it is also pervasive. It permeates every aspect of our humanity across every dimension of our human faculties: intellectual, psychological, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual. Due to the Fall, none of us possesses complete capacities in any of these areas—and yet, due to God’s common grace, we do not have completely destroyed faculties in any of these areas either. All of us experience some mix of the blessings of creation and some level of brokenness in every aspect of our lives. Finally, the effects of the Fall are alienating. We were created with God-given capacities for relationship with God, self, neighbor, and creation—and the Fall has the effect of causing alienation in all of those relationships.”
Humanity’s fall was pervasive and devastating, but the apostle Paul delivers to the church at Ephesus good news of this surprising change God has worked in the lives of his children. In (24) Paul writes, “the new self, created in accordance with God.” English translations are accurate in rendering this phrase, “new self, created after the likeness of God.” Paul adds, “in true righteousness and holiness,” referring specifically to moral excellence. These two phrases together form a powerful description of the image of God renewed in the new self. To be like God does not mean that we are God, but it does mean that the righteousness and holiness God imparts to us is authentic righteous and holiness.
John Murray wrote that these words of Paul hang on three infinitives: 1) to put off; 2) to be made new; 3) to put on. While these infinitives are used elsewhere by Paul as commands, here they are connected to (21) where Paul says, “you were taught.” These are old lessons from the first Christian primer. Paul taught in the hall of Tyrannus in Ephesus for two years. The result was a cluster of house congregations forming the Ephesian Church. Paul writes this letter to this church several years later reminding them that if they had sat under his teaching in the early days they not only heard about Christ, but they were also taught to follow Christ in moral excellence. Paul not only relates moral excellence to first lessons in the Christian life, but he also connects moral excellence to our human race being made in the image of God. And so, moral excellence is an original and primary component to the Christian life. It is not some second lesson, an elective, or advanced course. It is Christianity 101.
Please consider each of these infinitives with me. Paul writes, “you were taught…to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires.” Paul teaches us that we are no longer connected to the way of life governed by the fall and so we are to disconnect our behavior from fallen drives and motives. We are able to “put off the old self” because God has removed us from life governed by the fall and he has given us a new life governed by the Holy Spirit. “Corruption” and “deceit” describe humanity’s original fall and Paul uses these words to describe our drives and motives in a life governed by the fall. We have been taught to no longer act according to these drives and motives.
Paul supplies us with the second infinitive, “you were taught to be renewed in the spirit of your minds.” Before Paul writes of replacing fallen behavior with righteous behavior, he inserts this second infinitive about the changing of our thinking. He carefully chooses his language to teach us two lessons: the first is that our thinking must change so that our behavior might display moral excellence. The second is that our minds do not merely store data but rather, our minds have a spiritual function inclining us to seek after God. The first lesson is the simpler of the two. Most of us would agree that the most usual and effective path toward moral excellence begins in our minds and then in our behavior. Just as our brains tell our fingers and toes to move, our minds inform our behaviors.
The second lesson supports the belief that human beings are spiritual beings. We are not robots, computers, or machines. We are spiritual creatures. Our spirits are connected to our emotions but also to our minds. What needs to be renewed in our minds? Did our data-collecting machine in our brains break and so we need it to be repaired? This certainly would be a result of the fall, but Paul has something else in mind. The fall has also damaged the spiritual aspect of our minds. After the fall our minds are no longer inclined to seek after God. This is the problem that needs to be fixed and it is a spiritual problem. Most of us don’t need more facts about God stored away in our brains and then we will believe his holy gospel and follow his Christ. All of us need the spirit of our minds renewed so that we might be inclined to seek after God with our whole heart, soul, strength and mind.
The third infinitive is, “you were taught to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Paul’s third lesson concerns the new self. As new creatures there is a close connection between who we are and what we do but there is an even closer connection between God and us. Now that we have abandoned the old self, full of corruption and deceit and we have been using our minds to seek after God, we are ready to display moral excellence in our behavior. The new self is our identity in Christ. We are Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, and so, our behavior displays the moral excellence of Christ.
The Christian life cannot be reduced to us doing what is right. The Christian life is profoundly following Christ in doing what is right. The Christian is not defined by moral excellence. Rather, the Christian is defined by displaying the moral excellence of Christ.
Paul makes this point with his word order. The new self is separated in the language from righteousness and holiness by the phrase inserting God. The closer connection is between God and us. It is this connection that produces the secondary connection between who we are and what we do.
Humanity made in the image of God is dynamic for every one of us who has been renewed in Christ. As righteousness and holiness abound in us we become more and more human. The fall did not make us more human. The fall severely damaged our humanity. God is renewing us, repairing the damage, making us more human. To be human is good for God created us human, made in his image.
Part Four: Proper Treatment of People in God’s Image
How should we treat our fellow human beings in light of our being made in the image of God? James exposes our forked tongues likening our evil to the venom of a poisonous snake. What is our evil? We curse our fellow human beings who have been made in God’s image.
How do we curse one another? We do so in many ways. At times we hurl condemnation with the force of anger and bitterness into the face of a person. This only occurs when we lose our wit. More often we are wily. We do not speak face to face but instead we speak behind a person’s back. We gossip to tear down a person’s reputation or to better our own. We slander to even scores and level the playing field. We talk too much about those who have fallen and how much destruction their fall has produced.
What should replace our cursing of one another? We should use our tongues to bless God and to bless one another. After all, we have been made in God’s image and all of us who are united to Christ Jesus are experiencing the renewal of the divine image toward moral excellence.
In 1976 Terry O’Donnell left his home in Beaverton to vacation in southern Florida. Several days later he found himself doing the wrong thing at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was arrested and sentenced to 33 years in prison. For the first 20 years, he fought his sentence taking every legal appeal and recourse available to him but none of these efforts won his release. Eleven years ago he started attending a small group Bible study in the prison. He came to know Christ and put his faith in him. He decided to stop fighting his sentence and to serve it resting in Christ.
Terry began to voraciously read the Bible. He began to read every theological title available to him in the prison library. This past year, anticipating his release in 2009, Terry asked the woman who coordinates the distribution of Christian books in the prison if she would connect him to a reformed church in Beaverton. She found Evergreen online and gave to Terry our church address and my name. He wrote to me a long, hand-written letter. Now we are exchanging correspondence.
Undoubtedly, Terry is thinking about his release to Oregon, needing contacts and support. It is not easy to return to society, a man in his 60’s having spent 33 years in prison. But his letters reveal another flow of thought. Anyone reading his letters would discover that he is a man being renewed in the image of God. Listen to some of his thoughts:
“My personal struggle is not with faith but with my walk…my obedience…with unkind thoughts that every day plague me, popping into my mind, coming from where else but my heart, which means my heart/mind is far from renewed, and my natural enemy is still very much my Self as in Romans 7…. Maturity is critical to the success of our prison Bible study group, to our friendship. But what is maturity? I fell at age 35. Back then I knew that I was mature….That was pre-prison. But post 1976? Hooo boy! Realization dawned and kept on dawning with new, startling revelations as I matured. I now suppose that I was a 36 year old actually in my teens, emotionally. I’d been successful in business, successful even in ‘human engineering.’ Even so, a person can be emotionally and spiritually immature, and still succeed in the art of human interaction. That was me: a 36 year old teen, psychologically blocked to truth.”
How should we bless Terry O’Donnell? While he is in prison, we should use our tongues to pray for him, for his renewal in righteousness and holiness and for his upcoming transition into society. We can pick up our pens to encourage him, and when he is released we can remind him each and every day that he is made in the image of God and being renewed in the divine image.
How should we bless a person who suffers depression? Do you find it difficult to empathize with a loved one who rides the roller coaster of depression? What about your melancholy spouse? What about your uncle or mother who seems to focus often on the dark side of life?
Two weeks ago breaking news included selections from Mother Teresa’s letters released through the Vatican’s gathering of paperwork in sainthood proceedings. Mother Teresa wrote, “I am told God lives in me – and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul….When I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. Love – the word – it brings nothing….In my soul, I can’t tell you how dark it is, how painful, how terrible – I feel like refusing God.”
Few people in our lifetime have displayed the image of God more clearly than this 1979 Nobel Peace Prize recipient. She dedicated her life to helping the poorest of the poor in Calcutta in the name of Christ Jesus. Yet even this woman descended into despair and darkness.
How should we treat our loved ones, made in God’s image, yet suffering depression and despair? We should remind them of the image of God in them. We should encourage them with stories of hope, with the entire story of Mother Teresa. We should pray and patiently, quietly attend to the needs of our loved ones. We should bless them rather than curse them.
Does your loved one feel like refusing God? Remind him, “God has not refused you. Jesus Christ gave his life for you. His pierced hands extend toward you welcoming you into the heavenly Father’s love. God has not refused you.”
Recently, Ron Swafford gave to me a coffee table book, a photo history of Ronald Reagan by James Spada. The photographs of his childhood and of his acting career did not capture my attention. But the photographs of his political work and presidency stirred up memories and affections I had forgotten. The final photograph in the book is one of Nancy kissing her beloved husband. President Reagan’s eyes are closed, his face bereft of the laughter and engagement of earlier days. The caption reads, “February 6, 2000: Nancy gives Ronnie some cake and a kiss at his eighty-ninth birthday party at their home in Bel Air. The Alzheimer’s continued to slowly, inexorably drain the former President of his faculties, and although the Reagans celebrated their forty-eighth wedding anniversary on March 4, Nancy revealed that he no longer recognized her.”
How do we bless a person made in God’s image yet closed down by Alzheimer’s? We continue to express love and care even though it seems like a one-way relationship. As we do so, we remember daily of God’s loving and caring pursuit of us. While we were helpless and unresponsive, God graciously loved us. After all, the loss of memory and other mental faculties does not spell the loss of redemption in Christ Jesus. The loss of memory and other mental faculties does not erase the image of God in any of us. As we remember these gospel truths we will bless instead of curse.