In her latest blog, Georgie explores what the Bible says about who we are, and how we’re known by God.
I always had long hair. When you lose it, you realise just how important it is to your identity.
— Delta Goodrem —
Identity, the sense of self and of self-worth, can be a challenge to find in a world of social media, noise and distractions. Particularly in wake of a global pandemic! According to a survey by Mind, the mental health charity, more than half of adults (60%) have said their mental health has worsened during lockdown. Identities found in hanging out with friends, or in spending time with colleagues in the workplace, attending events or travelling were suddenly stripped away with lockdown at the beginning of March 2020. Many people, like Delta Goodrem, may have not even known where they placed their identity until that activity or interaction was taken away with the restrictions.
There is a need more than ever, to find our identity in something more permanent than what we see around us. As we emerge from this crisis, let’s look to the Bible to help us recenter our identity in God. In the following weeks, we are going to focus on different aspects of our identity and how that shapes how we view ourselves and others. A major theme in both the Old Testament and the New Testament is that we are known by God. We are not an accident, but made for a purpose. The following passages help cement these ideas.
Genesis 1:27: Known at the beginning of time
Genesis 1-3 tells us the story of creation, how everything, including humans, was created from nothing. God firstly creates the light, sky, sea and sky, moon and stars, sea creatures, land creatures and finally humans. After the third-, fourth-, and fifth-day God saw his creation was good, however on the sixth day where he created human beings, he declared it to be very good (1:31). The passage points towards mankind being the pinnacle of God’s creation. Humans, both male and female, are not only blessed and named very good but uniquely made in God’s image.
The passage points towards mankind being the pinnacle of God’s creation. Humans, both male and female, are not only blessed and named very good but uniquely made in God’s image.
To be made in God’s image, means that we are made to resemble God. In an ancient culture of idolatry, for humans to be made in God’s image was a radical concept. Whilst pagan temples had stone structures to be God’s image, God chose us to be living breathing representatives on this earth. Amazingly, this means that we can have a relationship with God. It’s good to remember that it’s a journey, and the more time we spend with God the more we grow into his likeness. A great example of this is, in Exodus 34, when we hear about Moses’ face being radiant after spending time with God. Whilst he didn’t recognise that his face was radiant, everyone else did. God sees how radiant we are, and the more time we spend with him and growing in his image, we also reflect his glory.
However, being made in God’s image and likeness means we have authority and responsibility to treat others as God would treat them with as we are all made in his image. However, being made in God’s image also doesn’t mean we are all the same. God is a creative creator and has likewise made us all different. Wouldn’t it be good to embrace our differences and unite over our common identity in God’s image?
Psalm 139: Known before we were born
The fact mankind was made in God’s image, translates on a very personal level. We’re told in Psalm 139, that we are ‘wonderfully and fearfully made’. God has intentionally knitted us together in our mother’s womb. In a society that says find your own truth, we can be grounded in the fundamental truth that we have a purpose, that we matter. The fact we were known before we were even born means that not only we matter now, but we always have and will matter to God. Our ability to be known and matter isn't based on our achievements or our relationships but based on who God is and who God made us to be.
In a society that says find your own truth, we can be grounded in the fundamental truth that we have a purpose, that we matter.
1 Samuel 16:7: Known not how the world knows us
In reality this means God sees us so radically differently to how we may see ourselves, or even how others perceive us. In this passage, God tells Samuel that he does look at what people look at, not the outward appearance but the heart. This is such a comfort to us as we can often compare ourselves to others and it’s good to know that God’s perception of me is of much greater importance than the world’s.
However, this is also a challenge for how we live our lives. If God knows our heart, he knows our deepest thoughts and fears. We cannot hide who we are from our creator. We need to recenter our heart around God’s and, secure in our own identity, begin to empower others to know their identity, too.
Having read this blog, take a few minutes to reflect on the following questions.
- Where, what or who do you place your identity in?
- What does it mean to be known by God?
- How does being made in God’s image make you feel?
- How does knowing you are known by God affect how you treat others.