OUR IDENTITY, OUR PURPOSE
It seems like there are about as many ideas of what it means to be a human being as there are human beings. Talk to people in your neighborhood, school, or workplace, and you’re likely to find people who believe we are just products of our environment, determined by the people and culture around us. You’re likely to also find people who argue the opposite — that we are born who we are and have little hope of changing it. Some say we are wholly physical, material beings and that what you see is all there is, and when you die you cease to exist. Others say we are wholly spiritual beings, and we must separate from the world around us to transcend the reality we can see if we ever hope to find meaning. Some people argue that we are defined by our economic needs, and others assert we are defined by our sexual desires. Still, others will say we are defined by our feelings. In the midst of all these competing ideas is the fear that there is no answer, so we might as well not worry about it and just live the best we can.
Into all of this confusion comes the Bible’s unique testimony that what it means to be human is to be made in the image of God. We can only know who we are and why we’re here if we know who God is and why he put us here. The Bible doesn’t propose this truth as one possible option among many. Nor does it say that this is just true for Christians. Instead, it tells us that this is the one truth about our identity as human beings that renders all competing ideas false.
Not only does the Bible tell us that we are all made in the image of God, but it also tells us that this truth is only understood when we look to one human being in particular, the one human being who is not just a human being, but who is “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15) and the one who is “like us in all things” (Heb 2:17), together in one person. We see who God is in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in him, we also see we are and who we are supposed to be. In other words, it’s only when we turn to Jesus that we find ourselves and begin to answer the questions of “who am I?” and “what am I supposed to do while here?”
Every human being is made in the image of God and therefore has dignity, purpose, and worth. Every human being is loved by God, can experience a relationship with him, and can be part of his plan to reconcile the world and bring in the kingdom. All of this is possible when we turn to Jesus Christ and discover our identity and purpose in him. Once we are in Jesus Christ, by grace through faith, we experience salvation from the sin that keeps us from living as we should, and we can begin to live out God’s image as we were created to do.