Identity: Imago Dei

7 07 2016

Identity.  Such a touchy subject for so many people.  I’m sure that for most people they wouldn’t be able to give you a firm understanding of what identity in general is let alone what their identity is.  We often float through life with a very thin grasp on our identity and how our identity affects us.

Who we are effects how we think, act and feel.  The problem is though that often who we are isn’t who we perceive ourselves to be.  Too many of us are living our lives thinking, acting and feeling based on a perceived identity and not our true identity.  

If I had to sum up most of my life, this is my story.  I perceived my identity as being something I had to attain, had to make sure didn’t get away.  I wanted to be seen as someone who loved Jesus above all else but I thought I had to “do” to keep this as my identity.  In the last year God has rocked me to the core to realize both what my perceived identity had been and to begin to grasp what my true identity is.

There is a song called “Good, Good Father” that talks about God’s identity as our Father and the chorus of the song goes:

“You’re a good, good Father – it’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are…
And I’m loved by you – it’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am…”

My identity, who I am, is being loved by God.  I don’t have to strain to reach this because being loved by God is dependent on His identity and not myself.

1

Our true identity can only be seen and understood in light of who God is and His original design for us.

Original Design.  The design we see in the lives of humanity is not God’s original design.  If you look at Genesis God’s original design was one of beauty, unity and completion.  Humanity was made in the image of God, in the image of our Good, Good Father.  Humanity was made to bear the very image of God.

Imago Dei.png

And this original design was good.  I know that can be a bit hard to swallow but it’s true.  If we were made in the image of God and God is our good, good Father, then we as His image bearer are good.  This doesn’t mean we don’t sin (that began after His original design) but it means that when we allow God to redeem us, His image shines through, and it is good.

You will notice that I’ve been saying humanity.  It’s because if I said man you would think that I was only talking about men.  In our day and age we too often get caught up in the differences between male and female to the point that we loose sight that God’s original design was seeing male and female together as one identity.  

It is not that we as male and female are the image bearers of God but instead that we, male and female, in unity together are THE image bearer of God.  It takes both male and female, together, to reveal the image of God.  And it is in our commonness of difference, our same essence fulfilled in our differences, that the full image of God can be revealed.

It is also in viewing God’s original design in male and female that we see that God’s design was for two purposes. We were made with the identity of being the Imago Dei for two purposes:

  1. Relationship with God
  2. Relationship with Others

Without these two purposes our identity can not be seen.

Relationship with God.  In the garden, at the point of God’s original design, He made us to commune with Him.  He walked in the garden, face to face, with Humanity.  From the beginning it was about relationship with Him.

Relationship with others. And from the beginning God saw that it was not good for man (humanity) to be alone and so He created community.  From the beginning it was about relationship with others.

Adam and Eve were made to be in perfect harmony with God AND with each other.

Sadly, sin entered the picture and altered how male and female would interact.  Sin introduced division both with God and with each other.  If you look throughout history, if you look to the heart of every grievance and sin it is twofold: 1. to bring division in our relationship with God and 2. to bring division to our relationship with others.

Thankfully this is where another player enters the scene, Jesus.

redeemed by Jesus

Jesus entered the scene and redeemed our original design.  

Jesus redeemed our relationship with God. He made a way where there was no way back into communion with God.  He paid the price forever that we never have to live separate from God.

AND Jesus redeemed our relationship with others.  Male and Female no longer have to interact under the curse of sin but instead we are able to interact under God’s original design.

Identity, personal and corporate, can only be understood through the lens of Jesus’ redemption.  Our identity isn’t something we have to find, isn’t something we get to choose or change.  Our true identity is rooted firmly in Him.  His original design was that we, male and female, in our commonness of difference, would be the image bearer of Him.

What are you waiting for?  Allow Him to change your understanding of Identity.  Allow Him to root out the lies of the enemy and firmly establish you in His original design.  Ask Jesus to redeem your identity and thus your relationship with both God and others.  And then allow God to show you what it means to be the image bearer of Him.

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4 responses

7 07 2016
Joel

You picked up on the subtleness of Genesis 1:27 in your post and I really liked it, it’s something i have believed for years but do not see many people comment on. The way we image God is as male and female. And then naturally the two combined are the full image of him. And then pulling our identity as men and women as the centrality of our imago dei into our relationships with God and others, we find ultimately our design. Great post!

7 07 2016
Normal Beautiful

Thanks Joel! I read a commentary in college on Genesis that mentioned this and then more recently read a book called “The Black Swan Effect” that mentions this as well. It’s important both in our identity and how our identity plays out in the world! Thanks for the comment!

7 07 2016
Joel

Thanks! I might have to put that on my “To Read” list. I first encountered this in John Eldredge’s Journey of Desire way back when I was in high school (a fantastic book). And I couldn’t agree more. We have to understand our design because the redemption God is doing in us daily is to bring us back to that original design through Christ, out of a fallen world. So understanding our imago dei as male and female and putting that in context that we were designed for relationship both with God and with others, as well that we were designed to live in an Edenic state at all times, I think really helps put perspective into who we are and where we are headed, as well as how managing the monotony and pain we encounter in this world…eg Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 15. (Sorry, I can really get into talking about this subject. It’s definitely my fave in the Word!)

3 10 2016
Resolving to Relate | normalbeautiful

[…] all hinges on our identity.  That our identity lies in who God is.  We are literally, as male and female, the image bearer […]

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