What are the biggest questions you wrestle with? If you’re like most people, then you wrestle with questions of identity, purpose, and significance. Who am I? What on earth am I here for? Does my life matter? Most of us spend our whole lives seeking answers to these questions. We try to find them in success. In relationships. In our stuff. And no matter how successful we become or how great our relationships may be or how much stuff we accumulate, we’re still wondering.
But what if identity wasn’t something that you were meant to construct? What if purpose wasn’t something you were intended to create? What if significance wasn’t something you had to attain? What if all of these pieces of your story were actually given to you from the beginning?
That’s what this post deals with today.
A Recipe for Insecurity
When I was younger, I was a very insecure person. You probably couldn’t tell by having a conversation with me. But I carried around a serious sense of self-doubt. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing. And I wasn’t too sure I really mattered.
All of my value and worth was tied up in other people’s opinions of me. I desperately wanted to please others. So, I tried to be funny. I tried to be popular. I wore clothes that I thought would help me find acceptance. I listened to music that other people liked. I tried to be who I thought other people wanted me to be.
It worked out for awhile. But in college it all started falling apart. I was out of the house. On my own. But I didn’t know who I was or what I was supposed to be doing with my life. And everybody around me seemed so sure. They had a major. They had plans. I did not.
So, I just started sort of fumbling through life. I dropped out of school. I got a job. I tried to have fun and enjoy myself. I got into relationships. I did everything I thought I was supposed to do, but I felt empty. Directionless. Dissatisfied.
I don’t think I’m the only person who has felt that way. In fact, I think I’m in good company.
When God’s not a part of your life, you have no foundation for living. And I believe that’s true because our story begins with God. You can’t live a good story if you don’t know the author.
Your Story is Designed by God
In the last post we looked at the very first verse of the Bible. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, ESV). And I said that God is the creator. Everything that exists, exists by the creative power of God. That’s true of the stars in the sky, the mountains and oceans and plants and animals. And that is true of humankind too.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26–27, ESV)
God created you and me. He is the designer of our story.
And all the big questions of life find their answer here in this passage of Scripture.
You are an Image Bearer of God
Who am I? According to this text, I am an image bearer of God. That’s strange language to us today. But, basically, what that means is that you and I are created to represent God on earth. Now, if you read the original post in this series, that’s a staggering reality. We are created in the image of the eternal, all-powerful, creative, relational God of the universe.
That sets us apart. No other created thing bears the image of God.
At the most fundamental level, that means that you and I were created to have a relationship with God. To know Him. How else can we represent God? God created you and me to know Him and to be known by Him. That means you are special because you have an invitation to enter into relationship with the God who made you.
One pastor said,
To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name. – Thomas Merton
You are created in the image of God. You are loved by God. And you were designed to know God.
What is my purpose? According to this text my purpose is to make the goodness of God known to the whole world. Not only am I created to know God and to be known by God, but I exist to make God known. That’s what it means to rule and reign on God’s behalf as His image bearer.
This is such a different approach to life than we naturally take. For so many people life is about making money, climbing the corporate ladder, getting the big house and newest car. For so many people, life is about living the American dream. But it’s not fulfilling. Because the American dream is about me. And I wasn’t created to live for me. I was created to live for God.
John Piper wrote,
God created us for this: to live our lives in a way that makes him look more like the greatness and the beauty and the infinite worth that he really is. This is what it means to be created in the image of God.
We are created in the image of God to live in a way that shows the whole world how good God is.
So, does my life matter? Absolutely. This is hard to accept because it’s not the message our culture sends. In our culture today, your significance is revealed on your paycheck. Your worth is tied to your investments and savings account. Your value is proportional to the number of followers you have on Twitter.
But not in God’s economy. In God’s economy your life matters because you bear His image and you matter to God.
I love this story Lecrae told at the Passion conference in 2015 (5:39-7:53). He was at a department store in Hollywood looking for a plain cotton t-shirt. He found a shirt on the rack that was listed as $640. He couldn’t believe it. Thought it was mis-marked. So he grabbed another one. Same price.
Finally, he found the salesperson and asked why the shirt was so expensive. Did it have magical powers? Would it heal him of some disease? What made that shirt worth $640?
The sales clerk said it’s the name of the designer that gives the shirt its value.
You and I have the name of God stitched on our hearts. You’re valuable because you bear His image.
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