I wait with anticipation the chance to help my children learn to walk. I know when they take their first few steps they will inevitably fall, and I will smile and help them up, all the while knowing the process will be repeated over and over. I know, too, that as our children grow, they will invariably experience missteps of some sort throughout the formative years and into young adulthood. What I most hope for, though, is that my children know I will love them just as much after a fall than before, if not moreso.
Is this not a characteristic of our Father? Actually, is this entire process not us making our own children into our image? "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...'" Genesis 1:26. And then man fell, and ruined everything so God had to spend the next 4000 years teaching man the error of his ways.
I think the theology of "the fall" has been infected by sin consciousness. Eve just ruined everything, and Adam went right along, now we are separated from God.
I do believe there is an element of truth in this, but I believe this picture is incomplete. Human nature is best expressed when? Before someone makes a mistake? No. In this respect, Alexander Pope got it right, "To err is human, to forgive divine." An Essay on Criticism (1711).
A more literal rendering of Genesis 1:26 is probably, "And He is saying, Elohim, we shall make man in the image of us..." Although I believe man was made in the image of God, I also think that God is continually saying, "let us make man in our image". In other words, being made in the image of God was not a one time thing that Adam and Eve ruined for the rest of us. God knew all along this would be a process. How better to express one of his many natures(?): that of a redeemer.
Which man most resembles the image of God, Adam or Jesus? Adam fell, Jesus did not. Had Adam and Eve been what Jesus was, mankind would be quite different to be sure, but man would not be what man was intended to be: redeemed.
Notice that after "the fall" God says, "'Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever' - therefore, the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden..." Genesis 3:22-23. If the process of making man in God's image was complete before the fall, man would not have become "like one of Us".
After man knew good and evil, he was banished from the Garden so he would not eat of the tree of life. Why? Because this would circumvent the process. When do we get to eat of the tree of life? When Christ returns and we have overcome. Revelation 2:7.
Before the knowledge of good and evil, Adam walked with God. After Jesus died on the cross, "the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom", and the barrier between man and God was removed forever. Now, through faith in Christ we are able to walk with God again, and not just side by side, but with His spirit in us.
Jesus was truly man made in the image of God, and "as He is, so are we in this world".