What does it mean to be created in the image of God?
“For John Wesley, the “image of God” has three interrelated dimensions. We reflect God’s free agency in the natural image, which gives us understanding, freedom, and affections (or a disposition of the will). We reflect God’s role in governing creation in the political image, our capacity for responsible stewardship. Most importantly, we reflect God’s essential character in the moral image, which is love. God is love. ‘Accordingly, ‘ says Wesley, humanity as originally created was ‘full of love’ as the ‘sole governing principle of (all) tempers, thoughts, words and actions.'” (A Year with John Wesley and our Methodist Values by Randy Maddox et. al, page 23).
Due to our fall from grace, we no longer reflect the fullness of God’s love. We have lost the moral image. “Consequently, in our natural image we no longer have the freedom to love as God loves, but instead we have a disposition to put self and things we desire ahead of God and our neighbor. Likewise, in our political image we now misgovern creation, making selfish use of that for which God intended us to care.
The good news is this: God intends to restore us fully to the image in which we were created. It is for that purpose Christ came; it is for that purpose the Holy Spirit is at work. Restoring us to the fullness of love is, says Wesley, the essence of salvation.” (Maddox et. al, p. 23)
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (by Charles Wesley)
1 Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heav’n, to earth come down,
fix in us Thy humble dwelling;
all Thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion;
pure, unbounded love Thou art;
visit us with Thy salvation;
enter ev’ry trembling heart.
2 Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit
into ev’ry troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
let us find the promised rest.
Take away the love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
end of faith, as its beginning,
set our hearts at liberty. (The United Methodist Hymnal, #384)