The world is filled with people searching for “who they are” and one can search their entire lives feeling like they’ve never found who they were meant to be or what they were meant to do. We’ve developed the attitude of “how can we know we don’t like something until we try it?”… eliminating choices for ourselves by trying everything we can and determining if it’s a good fit for the lifestyle we want to build around. We’re widely influenced by cultural trends or family traditions, constantly bombarded with what the world says we should be, how we should look, who we should love, and an endless amount of other suggestions. All you have to do is turn on the TV to see the overwhelming amount of content about weight loss pills/exercises for the ‘perfect body’, plastic surgeon ads, dating websites, makeup for a flawless face, and the list goes on and on. What all these things have in common is they are based around vanity, having no long term effect in satisfying that void within our soul for purpose. What we may not take into account in our search of finding out who we are supposed to become in this life is God, the very image in which we were created.
Gen 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, 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.(NKJV)
The word for image in ancient Hebrew is ‘tselem’ and speaks of an outline or representation of an original, as a shadow is the outline of the original. We are to be the representation of God on the earth as Christians. Origen, a prolific Early Church father and pupil of Clement of Alexandria, had this to say about being created in the image and likeness of God:
Moses, before all other philosophers, describes the first creation of man in these words: “And God said, Let Us make man in Our own image, and after Our likeness;” (Gen 1:26) and then he adds the words: “So God created man in His own image: in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them, and He blessed them.” (Gen 1:27, Gen 1:28) Now the expression, “In the image of God created He him,” without any mention of the word “likeness,” conveys no other meaning than this, that man received the dignity of God’s image at his first creation; but that the perfection of his likeness has been reserved for the consummation, – namely, that he might acquire it for himself by the exercise of his own diligence in the imitation of God, the possibility of attaining to perfection being granted him at the beginning through the dignity of the divine image, and the perfect realization of the divine likeness being reached in the end by the fulfilment of the (necessary) works.
Origen is stating that as God’s creation we were given His image freely, but it is our responsibility to be in His likeness. The word for likeness in ancient Hebrew is also the word for blood- dem-ooth’– meaning, a son from the blood of the father resembles his father. This can also be seen in Jesus’ teaching of the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-15). When Jesus is explaining the meaning to his disciples he says that the seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11). The word for seed in Greek also means “sperm”. The sperm of the father carries the DNA needed for the conception of the child. As that child grows it takes on characteristics and attributes of the father, even if the father was never present during the child’s life. That is how powerful DNA is, it is the very makeup of who we are as people and how we act. This is also true with the word of God as described by Jesus himself. When we receive the seed/word/sperm/DNA of God, take it seriously, and let it penetrate our hearts, we start to take on attributes of God. We start to look more and more like our Dad as we progress through our new christian life, trying to obtain His likeness and leaving behind the likeness of the world. Origen goes on further to explain this:
The Apostle John points out more clearly and unmistakably, when he makes this declaration: “Little children, we do not yet know what we shall be; but if a revelation be made to us from the Saviour, ye will say, without any doubt, we shall be like Him.” (Cf. 1Jo 3:2) By which expression he points out with the utmost certainty, that not only was the end of all things to be hoped for, which he says was still unknown to him, but also the likeness to God.
It is easy to see why there is so much confusion and chaos in the world today. Children are given the option of picking their gender, and humanity is so desperate to find love that we say we identify as anything just to find that so-called love. A shocking survey released this year found that only 9% of generation Z was bible engaged, bible engaged being described as reading the bible at least 3-4 times a YEAR. This generation also has the highest rates of identifying as LGTBQ, 1 in 6 to be exact, and also faces the highest suicide rates of any previous generation in history (second leading cause of death for this age group). There is no word for coincidence in the Hebrew language, it is evident that a lack of knowledge of God’s word is going hand in hand with what is happening in our world today. A whole generation of people are taking their own lives over a lack of identity which is absolutely heartbreaking. This isn’t even taking into account the crime and racial issues our nation is currently facing. We all have a void in our soul, we are all searching for love and acceptance, but sadly we can spend our lives searching in all the wrong places. God is the missing part of us that we have to find, we can never be complete until we find our creator.
Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Col 3:10-11 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
The world will tell us everything we can’t be, it will point out all our flaws and shortcomings. If Satan can keep us from learning our true identity then he can keep us in the cycle of sin and spiritual death. Over the decades, God has been taken out of schools, government, and sadly out of most churches. If the enemy can keep God’s people in the image of the world, then he can keep pushing his agenda. Apostle Paul states above that we are not to be conformed to this world, we are to renew our mind and put on the mind of Christ (Php 2:5). Colossians 3:10 states that this has to take place in our mind first. As God’s precious creation, we have to first gain knowledge of who we are and then let that knowledge transform our mind. There is a definite lack of knowledge of who we are as individuals and confusion is running rampant, creating a direct link between being biblically illiterate and the problems we see manifesting. When God becomes our first love we can then start the transformation process of coming into His likeness. This is where true fulfillment and purpose is found and where we can finally find peace. Our identity is in Christ, receiving His word/seed and letting it take root deep within us so we can resemble our Father. In Him alone can our identity be found.
Php 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
All scripture references: New King James Version
Origen, De Principiis, Book 3 – Ch 4-End
CDC: the Suicide Rate for Young People Rose 56% This Decade (businessinsider.com)
1 in 6 Generation Z adults identify as LGBTQ – CBS News