Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (NLT)
It seems we were created by God to be like him. We can safely assume that this likeness is not physical resemblance since our creator does not have a body. More likely, our maker created us to share some of his characteristics.
We are made for relationships, just as God relates to himself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We can note God refers to himself in the plural. This means we have the capacity and even the need to relate to God and to one another. God made the different genders. Male and female each bear his image. It also means we relate to the natural world.
So being in God’s image and likeness places us in a network of relationships. It also gives us a moral sense: we have the ability to choose between right and wrong in a way that non human creation may not. This gives us great dignity and great responsibility. We can enjoy good relationship with God and each other and the natural world, or we can spoil them all.
We are not glorified animals, but have a distinct and special identity. And this identity is not obliterated by our choice to declare independence from our maker. The image remains but is marred sometimes beyond recognition. All of this means that we each matter, each of us bears something of God’s imprint.
We remain stubbornly human, even as we think and behave in inhuman ways.