By Linda Rex
I was wandering through the woods with family at a state park recently. The trail we were on was an arboretum walk, so there were signs telling us facts about the forest. And periodically on one of the trees we would find a small sign indicating the common and Latin name for that particular tree. We would pause to look at the tree and wonder why that particular tree received that particular name. This was cause for discussion as we had a farmer, a budding scientist and a student among the group, and common names often vary depending upon where a person lives.
The student had been studying taxonomy recently. Taxonomy or the classification of living things has been going on since the beginning of time. It seems that we as humans are always looking for ways to organize things according to their characteristics, and in the process, we give them names. One of the first things we do when we have a newborn in the family is to give the child a name. We do not want our little one to be nameless, because names are essential to someone’s identity and designate the particular family the child belongs to.
Belonging and identity are things that are very important to us as humans. It seems as though we spend much of our lives seeking to answer the question, “Who am I?” We pay attention to other people’s views of who we are and we allow friends, the media, school and even church to define us. We look within ourselves to find the answer as well. Sometimes this pursuit of self-definition becomes an obsession. Or we find late in life that we were not all that we thought we were and so we start the process of “finding ourselves” all over again. It can be a difficult and painful process.
One of the advantages of holding a Christian worldview is seeing ourselves as having our identity and sense of belonging based in the One who made us. Having made us in his image, the God who is and lives in love as Father, Son and Spirit, defined us as humans at the beginning as being made in his image and created to love and be loved by him and by one another. Not only that, but he ensured that whatever we may come across in our lives or may say or do to mar or disfigure that identity would be powerless to ultimately alienate us from his will and purpose for us. He did that by taking human flesh himself in Jesus Christ and fully living out all he meant us to be as human beings. He has given us a new self “which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Eph. 4:24 NASB)
The beginning of any search for identity, belonging, worth and value should begin with Jesus Christ, and with the God who made us all in his image. And we have no reason to fear whatever we may find along the way that may be unpleasant about ourselves, because it is already held up, forgiven and embraced in the person of Jesus Christ and the grace we have in him. God meets us where we are to bring us to himself in Jesus Christ. As we grow in our relationship with God through Christ in the Spirit, we are slowly transformed into the image of God we were meant to be and are in Jesus Christ. If we keep our focus on Jesus Christ, we will find ourselves becoming more fully and completely the people we were created to be. We will begin to reflect our true identity. And that is definitely worth finding.
Lord, thank you for creating us in our image to reflect you and for giving us yourself in Jesus Christ to ensure that we may fully reflect you in spite of our human limitations and flaws. We trust you, Lord, to finish what you have begun in us. Grant us the grace to find our worth, our value, identity and meaning solely in you. In your name, Jesus, we pray. Amen.
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” –Genesis 1:27 (NASB)