When the Pharisees asked Jesus if they should pay tax to Caesar, Jesus had them look at a coin: “Whose image is this?” (Matt. 22:20, NIV). Dutifully they answered that Caesar’s image was imprinted on the denarius. So, yes, he gets the imperial tax. “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (v. 21). We generally stop at the first half of that verse for proof that paying taxes is right, expected of us. After all, the emperor’s image is on the coin.
Jesus’ answer was twofold. So what bears the image of God? What belongs to God? It’s who. We go back to the creation story. Of all the creatures God made, only the humans did God create in His image: “In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen. 2:27, NIV).
This is basic to the pro-life message. Because we are created in God’s image, we do not abort unborn human children. God spoke through Isaiah about “children, the work of my hands” (Isa. 29:23, NIV). From the moment of conception, we are all stamped with the image of God. Life matters. We are precious in God’s sight, for He created us and we belong to Him. We defend the rights of the unborn, because we speak the truth of ownership, the right to live in His world.
The message of bearing the image of God goes further; because we belong to God, we make ourselves available to Him, His plans and purposes. In a way, we accept that image upon ourselves, into our daily living, honoring God and proclaiming His Word to others. We want the truth to be known in our family, neighborhood, nation, and around the world. We live out the image of God. We cannot say to the One who formed us, “You did not make me” (Isa. 29:16, NIV). God did. Therefore, we represent Him in all we say and do. That’s image-bearing.