"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27, NIV).
What does it mean to be created in the image of God? Whatever else it means, it must mean that people are special to God. He cares about plants, animals, and the environment. In fact, he has charged humanity with taking care of them, managing them, and "ruling" over them. However, they were not created in his image. Men, women, boys, and girls have a special place in God's heart because they bear his image.
The image of God has been believed to have been many things over the years: intelligence, the ability to communicate, creativity, and many other attributes. However, can the image of God be equated with abilities? While some animals may have a higher IQ than a severely mentally disabled child or a comatose man, the person would still bear the image of God lacking in animals. Intelligent men have no more of the image of God than simple men. The deaf and mute Helen Keller bore the image of God as much as the great communicator Ronald Reagan. An artist and a musician have the same image of God as a paralyzed woman in a hospice.
God's image must be linked to a spiritual component within us.
Since people have been created in the image of God, anyone who respects God must respect those who bear his image. This is especially important to remember when interacting with people who differ from me in language, culture, temperment, religion, and choice of sins. We may be different, but I must remember our common Creator.