This topic requires several layers of exposition. For instance, someone inclined to think of this topic from a corporeal/sensual level, that is, from things learned in the physical world, may simply conclude that God has ten fingers and toes like we do and stands upright.
Going deeper, scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg stated that the human will (heart) and understanding (intellect) represent the image and likeness of God’s Love and Wisdom. For without the capacity to feel and think freely we would not be human. Therefore, we get our very humanness from God’s essential character.
Going deeper still, one can also find even more insights within Swedenborg’s theological writings. After all, if a person has a depraved will and distorted intellect how can they be considered a mirror image of the Most Holy Being?
More precisely, if there is nothing for God’s Love and Wisdom to flow into and sustain a person’s vital functions—that is, nothing representative of heavenly Love and Truth within a person’s heart and mind—how does God keep the connection alive? (All energy, spiritual or physical, must flow into its proper form through similitude.)
According to Swedenborg, God’s life-sustaining influence must also flow into a person according to correspondence—how closely one’s inner makeup reflects spiritual and noble values. To ensure this connection and correspondence is maintained, the Lord God actually devised a new strategy after the “Fall” of humankind.
God carefully stores away innocent feelings and ideas into the human subconscious mind, where they are kept safe from the vanities and allurements of the world and provide an important foundation (matrix) for heavenly love and truth to continue to flow into the lives of men and women. Swedenborg called this matrix the “remains” and it serves as a plane for spiritual conscience to grow and evolve within our being-experience.
Conscience is a representative mirror of God in our lives. And because this “image and likeness” is kept safe in the subconscious, it keeps the Lord’s mercy operative even within the evil-minded. It is there to re-order our thoughts and feelings so that we may become better people.
But we can probe even more deeply into what conscience is. More precisely, it is an actual representation within us of God’s grieving. Mercy is love grieving. For when conscience is activated, and we perceive some disparity between our actions and knowledge, we grieve and implore God’s mercy. In this way we literally take part in some of the Lord’s suffering (who must act on an imperfect world). By engaging in this process of spiritual rebirth we remove a small burden of God’s suffering.
That certainly adds a new twist to our cosmic responsibility.