“Let us make man in Our image.” Genesis 1:26
The three most important questions in life are “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” And “Where am I going?” Notice which one is first. Do you know who you are? The question of identity is the most important. We have to know who we are before we can know our purpose or destiny.
To answer this most fundamental question we simply need to go to the beginning. The very first chapter of the Bible contains a statement of immense power and potential. God made a decision to make us in His image.
Think of that for a moment. There is something very god-like about every human being. What this is exactly is uncertain, but it definitely separates us from all of creation, and that is the point that I want you to cling to. Something is eternally, immutably, wonderfully divine about YOU! This is the original blessing we too often have forgotten. It is more important than the original sin.
How can I best describe this? God put a little bit of Himself in you. Your spiritual DNA is directly from the Father of Lights. He installed the software at the very beginning. Maybe it’s better to say that God installed the operating system. Let’s keep working with the metaphors. He put a little heaven in you. Or I like the way the writer of Ecclesiastes phrased it, “He has put eternity into man’s mind” (3:11).
Theologians have puzzled for centuries over what this image is. Again, we simply can’t be certain, but I’m certain that it can only be understood in relational terms (as everything about God must be understood. His nature and actions all have a role in helping us draw near to Him). So my divine image enables me to know and relate to God.
The image enables us to hear the song of creation itself, every day. We hear not just an echo of God’s original creation but we are tuned to the ongoing rhythms of His grace so that we “vibrate” when completely in tune with Him. Most of us experience this as a soul-deep longing for and satisfaction with God alone. “As the deer longs for flowing streams so my soul longs for thee, O God” (Ps. 42:1).
We may try to escape this heavenly music by turning up a lot of the noise of life. I have many times spoken to people who have run from God, flatly denying or dismissing His existence, and embracing many forms of chaos. What’s supremely interesting to me, however, is that in quiet and reflective moments they all wonder about God. They seem to love “the idea” of God. That primal curiosity is the image singing to them
Now those who not longer struggle with “the idea” of God often face a problem of spiritual amnesia. We sometimes live as if we have forgotten God. Let’s change the metaphor from music to art. The image becomes so marred by the graffiti of fear, anxiety, avarice, resentment, etc. etc. that we forget where we came from. So we forget who we are.
The Bible essentially is a record of God driving home our identity and trying to restore it. That ultimately is the work of Christ. He erased the graffiti. We must simply accept this grace, embrace who we are in Christ, and follow the Artist.
I’ve often thought that my task in life is the be a re-minder, that is, one who reminds. So let me remind you today of what the scripture says about you and your image. Each phrase is rooted in scripture or a scriptural idea.
You are a child of God, one of His sons or daughters. He is your Daddy, your Papa, the One who never mistreated, neglected, or abandoned you.
You are redeemed, that is, set free of all the bondage of your past.
You are holy, blameless, and righteous before God through Christ. The fact that you do not feel holy doesn’t change the fact that God sees perfectly what you will be in the end.
You are chosen. God picked you. He adopted you and wants you in His family.
You are a new creation. Every day you have an opportunity to start your life over. Every day. Even when you have fallen every day previously.
You are completely forgiven. A young woman recently asked me if I thought God forgave her for her abortions. God forgives all, I assured her. I wonder if that was what kept her from seeing and rejoicing in God’s image in her? I hope she does now.
Trust me that I could go on and on. The Bible is quite clear about who you are. A good summary might be Isaiah 43:4 where God said ”You are precious in My eyes, and honored, and I love you.”
God calls constantly to the image in you. He sings to you. Woos you. Speaks to you softly. He erases all the ugly smudges, repairs all the painful gouges, and brings back the wondrous color of His image in you.
Dr. Terry Ellis
February 14, 2016