The Image of God

Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong?

I grew up in Germany as a military brat—the youngest of four siblings. My siblings were all close in age and often did things together. I am five years younger than my closest sibling, so I often played alone.

I also have some very fond memories with my siblings from my childhood when we lived in Wiesbaden, Germany. I remember sledding down “suicide hill” on our wooden sled with us cheering each other on. I remember crossing the busy street outside my neighborhood with my brothers to walk to local shopping, bakeries, and candy stores. I remember the softball games in the big lot behind our complex, and so many other things we did and places we went.

Perhaps what makes those memories rich and vibrant still today is the atmosphere and attitudes we had toward each other. There was joy and cooperation. We treated each other kindly and showed respect for one another. We valued each other. And we are worth valuing!

With the cousins

Visiting the cousins. I’m the tag-along in the back.

Value is the key.

God values each of us. He created us each in His own image! He thought so highly of humanity that He formed us to directly and correctly represent Himself to all of creation. You are the very image of God! You were uniquely and perfectly made to perfectly reflect God.

God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them. Genesis 1:27 (CEB)

God created humanity to be in a collaborative relationship with His will and purposes. At the end of the first chapter of Genesis, God blessed humanity and commissioned us to fill the earth (be fruitful and multiply) and to extend God’s kingdom over the earth (subdue or master it). And once He had blessed us and established a plan to extend His glory over the face of the earth through us, He called it supremely good.

But something happened.

The crafty serpent, our enemy, the devil, sold Adam and Eve a half-truth. Of course, a half-truth is just as good as a lie. He told them that if they ate the fruit they would not die but would rather become like God knowing good from evil (Genesis 3:4-5). It’s true they wouldn’t die, and it’s true they would clearly see good and evil. But the big lie was that they would become like God. You see, they already were! They were like God—they were His image bearers. They were the very imago dei, tselem Elohim¸ or image/reflection of God!

So, Adam and Eve sold our birthright to rule over creation with God for a taste of something else—for a taste of forbidden fruit. Like Esau, humanity’s freely given birthright was sold to fill a fleeting appetite—a taste of stew, a bite of fruit. And like Esau, Adam and Eve discovered that what was sold couldn’t just be taken back by the Father!

Our birthright had to be purchased at a higher price. So, God made a way for us to be reborn (John 3) and reclaim the birthright that was bought and returned to the family through the sacrifice of Jesus. God did that for you because, no matter what happened or what Adam and Eve did, He still values each one of us as supreme reflections of His very image.

We have the opportunity through Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit to be restored to that divine relationship that God created from the beginning of time for us. By Christ, we once again have the right to become princes and princesses and to be called the children of God, the Almighty, the Ruler of Creation (1 John 3:1).

Ours is a relational assignment. In other words, everything we are commanded to do is based on a present-tense relationship with God. The partnership is to demonstrate relationship. This is so very valuable to Him. To say that God needs us would be incorrect, of course. He is self-contained. He needs nothing. But He passionately desires to share His rule with those He made in His image, who worship Him by choice. –Bill Johnson, The Essential Guide to Healing

Defining the Real You

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. – Jeremiah 1:5

Everyone struggles to define who they are—at home, at school, with their family, with friends, and in life. People regularly answer questions like, “What’s your name?”, “What do you do for school/work?”, and “What’s your favorite (fill in the blank)?” You are constantly challenged to define yourself for the world and to others. It should be no surprise then that many people often struggle to answer those questions and define who they are even to themselves.

Defining You

Defining “Self” Like Everyone Else

Psychology teaches that the concept we have of “self” is comprised of the view you have of yourself, how much you value yourself, and what you wish you were really like. [1] These concepts of self can be influenced by many internal and external factors. As you interact with the world and other people (who are also trying to define themselves), you begin to form a view of who you are and how you fit in this world. Depending on the input you receive, your view of self can be shaped positively or negatively.

The Challenge of Defining “Self”

Defining “self” is one of the greatest challenges facing today’s generation. With the flood of negative external input from social media, news, school, peers, and others, it’s not hard to see why. Having a strong inner voice that speaks positively about your appearance, behavior, worth, and purpose in life is a real struggle for many people.

According to the Huffington Post, suicide rates among teens aged 15-19 has increased significantly from 2007-2015 (girls rates doubled, and boys rates rose 30 percent). [2]

All this external input is the world trying to shape and define your identity. However, the truest definition of an artist’s work doesn’t come from the art critic or the art consumer, it comes directly from the artist! That is what the last lesson was all about—you are God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)! He is the artist who defines you!

WHO ARE YOU… REALLY? THERE IS ONLY ONE PLACE YOU CAN LOOK TO FIND THE TRUE ANSWER TO WHO YOU ARE AND WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE.

God Defines the Real You

One of the best examples of how God defines the “real you” can be found in the story of Gideon from the Old Testament. In Judges 6, a messenger visits Gideon. He speaks and calls Gideon a mighty warrior. And Gideon argued with him!

As you struggle through life trying to define who you are to the world and to yourself, you can rely on How the Master Artist views you. Jeremiah 1:5 says that He knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb. He, above all others, has the right and privilege of revealing your true identity—you are a son or daughter, you are amazing and unique, and you are a mighty warrior!

But that wasn’t the end of the story. Gideon wasn’t a mighty warrior when he was identified as one by God’s messenger. His identity was revealed to him and called out of him. He had to learn how to walk and live in that true identity revealed to him by the messenger.

He had to learn how to listen to God’s voice. He had to learn how to reject and overcome fear. He had to learn to trust God and walk in God’s ways. It was a challenge and a struggle, but as he followed God, he became the person God told him he already was. God sees the you that you truly are and are truly meant to become.

The Challenge to Become You

As you “do life” this week, take time to listen for God’s voice. By what name does He call you? What traits is He identifying that are inside of you? Begin to trust that He knows what He is talking about and take a step. Don’t argue like Gideon. Don’t keep looking for a sign like Gideon. Instead, step out of the boat like Peter did in Matthew 14:22-33. You might sink like Peter if you take your eyes off Jesus. But, then again, you might just find yourself walking on water.

Take Time to Reflect

Take some time and reflect on the following questions. Use them as a conversation catalyst with God—He really does want to know who you are. Use these questions to help you engage in conversation with friends. These can help you go deeper into relationships with God and others!

  1. How well do your friends know the real you? How do they know what they know about you?
  2. How well does God know the real you? How does He know what He knows about you?
  3. How do you want your friends to identify you? What words do you want them to use to describe you?
  4. How do you want to identify yourself? What words do you want to use to describe yourself?
  5. How does God identify you? Ask your teacher, youth leader, or pastor to help you discover how God identifies you.

 

[1] McLeod, S. A. (2008). Self concept. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/self-concept.html

[2] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/suicide-rates-teen-girls_us_59848b64e4b0cb15b1be13f4