November 08, 2018
If you’ve seen the movie The Greatest Showman, then you must be familiar with the song, This is Me. Maybe the lines “I am brave / I am bruised / I am who I’m meant to be / This is me” also resounded in your heart.
Why is that? Why are we sometimes torn between proudly saying “This is me!” and hiding from the world because we feel inferior? Why is it that in the same breath as saying “I don’t care about what others think”, we also do things to impress them? It seems as if we are wired to get our worth and value from outside ourselves—from accomplishments or from other people.
This is a tale as old as time. Let’s just say as old as the first three chapters of Genesis.
The first mention of man in the Bible was in Genesis 1:26,27:
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.
The word man in this passage refers to the whole of mankind, not just to a particular person (Adam) or gender (male).
This passage points to the truth of how God originally designed us:
This includes you.
Yes, you are an image of God. The way that you look, your personality, and your unique set of gifts are facets of the truth that you reflect a beautiful and creative God. This means you are beautiful. This means you are valuable. This means you have a purpose that no one else can fulfill.
And as much as this is true in an individual level, this is also true as a race. It always struck me as strange that the Bible says in the image of God, He created him and then in the next line, male and female, He created them.
This means no one person is the sole image of God. Just as God sees each one of us as beautiful and valuable and assigns us a purpose, so He wants us to see that others are equally beautiful and valuable, regardless of the world’s standards of beauty and worth. He wants us to realize that yes we have a unique purpose, but we also need each other to fulfill His ultimate purpose for all of mankind—to fill the earth and steward His creation.
Genesis 2:18 says, Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” The Hebrew phrase for helper is ezer kenegdo, which does not mean an assistant, but rather a strong support and complement.
Adam calling her later on as “bone of my bones” is an idiomatic expression meaning “my equal” or “one of equal value.” This is true for a married couple, but this is also true for a community. We are of equal value and are complementary to one another.
I can only imagine Adam naming the animals without Eve, saying, “Look, these animals with humps and two toes can be called a camelid.” Then Eve comes along, with her eye for detail, and she says, “Adam, see, they don’t really look alike. We can call this one with a longer neck a llama, and then the fluffier one an alpaca.”
I can only imagine Adam naming the colors without Eve as red, blue, green, and yellow. Then Eve comes along and says, “Adam, look, there are different hues of yellow. So how about calling this darker one that has the same color as the seed you named the other day as mustard? And then this one that looks like the fruit you named last night, as lemon?”
What a beautiful partnership indeed!
But looking around, we know this is not what is happening in the world.
What happened after Adam and Eve disobeyed?
More than banishment from the beautiful and prosperous garden—more than the curse of sin— the fall broke man’s relationship with the Source of their glory.
Without God reflecting His glory on us and defining who we are, we are at a loss about the purpose and meaning of our lives. We start to look to other things to define us—our accomplishments, others’ praise, love, and acceptance.
This desire to be recognized and affirmed may lead to sin. We want to be seen as better than others, so we put others down by gossiping and slandering. We want to be seen as a good person, so we highlight our good works and judge other people’s actions. We get offended when we are overlooked, so we harbor bitterness and unforgiveness.
And this does not stop on the individual level. We do it as a “tribe” as well—as a nation, as a region, even as a church. We say we are more hospitable than the rude foreigners. We say more people speak our regional dialect, so it should be the national language. We say our preaching or our music is better than other churches. We fall into the trap of envy, slander, and disunity because of our desire to be affirmed.
What a sad, sorry bunch we are. Eugene Peterson described it so accurately in The Message version of Galatians 5:19–21, “It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex . . . divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.”
Who will rescue us in our helpless state?
Our helpless state of being spiritually dead was brought about by sin. But through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we, who have put our faith in Him, are made alive in Him. And through Him, we are now able to live out our original purpose As it is said in 1 Corinthians 15:49, And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
What does this look like exactly?
The continuation of the passage in Galatians 5:22–26 shows the kind of Spirit-led life that Jesus made possible for us.
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely . . .
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.
What a radical change from merely existing and fighting for survival! This kind of life is indeed a piece of heaven in a broken world. In Jesus, each of us can confidently say “This is me!” In surrendering our lives to Him, we become who we’re meant to be—the image of God.