There is little in scripture that elaborates on the image of God, and people seem to hold a wide variety of views on this topic. I’ve heard the image of God be equated with all sorts of aspects of our existence, and I’ve done it myself. But the verses are pretty clear in my opinion that being made in the image of God means we are “like God”. The image of God is what sets us APART from nature and gives us dominion over it. Since we can understand nature as a rendering that comes directly from God, nature itself has no independence from him. It has no ability to have its own experiences and make it’s own relationships and choices. But since we are in the image of God, this means we are like God, being independent beings (or “minds”, for lack of a better word) who are actors and independent agents in the world that is otherwise created and maintained by God alone. Like God, we are spiritual beings, although very limited we are able to form relationships and love and make choices in a reflection of our triune God.
Now unlike God who is infinite and privy to all of existence, we are limited and designed for a specific kind of environment, one which is ordered by time and space. These are the experiences we are given, and they are what we are designed for. We are capable of realizing that reality is something beyond our experience, but with our limitations we would be unable to experience it. This will not change, the new creation will still be built for human experiences, it will still have recognizable time and space and objects because these are the things we are capable of understanding, and they are the conceptualizations which God has created us to interact with.
When Jesus became flesh, he took on the limited perspective of a human soul and experienced his own creation through the perspective that God renders for us as we live our lives. He played by the same rules that he had created for us, even experiencing death, showing by his resurrection that death is not the end. He did this to set and example and to show us how much God loves us and how he has taken our sins and forgiven them despite how much we have wronged him and caused his suffering.
A reboot is not a bad analogy. I think it is important to notice that it is relationships that cause more suffering than any physical pain. We are incapable of not causing this suffering to others, and even if the physical problems of the world were completely removed: death, disease, hunger and all pain, we would still be as miserable as ever because of how we treat each other, even when we try our best. A suffering-free world is only possible because we submit to the guidance of the Holy spirit. (allow Jesus to “take the wheel” so to speak) Here in this fallen world we are shown both the suffering that arises from selfishness and the joy that can result through love. Thus while we are able to make the free and informed choice to give ourselves to God and choose to be part of the new creation. Anyone refusing to make that choice cannot be part of it, and God does not force them to submit to him because that would not be love but slavery instead. So the new creation is more about the redeemed human element then the nature of the “physical” experience itself.