4. Made in God’s Image: An Identity Crisis?

4. Made in God’s Image: An Identity Crisis?

4. Made in God’s Image: An Identity Crisis?

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… So God made man; in the image of God He made him; male and female He made them.” (Gen. 1:26-27). 

“Identity is found when we place ourselves into God’s story of what He is doing in the world, and what His plan is, not where we make ourselves the center of the story and either push God out or squeeze Him in.’ (Dustin Crowe).

We are in the 21st century, and Americans are having a serious identity crisis. We seem to be on a mad race to discover who we are. And once we have latched onto an identity, it becomes the centerpiece of our lives. We orient our lives around this identity. We consider our identity sacred, infallible, the essence of who we are. Our identity becomes our idol. There are many, too many, identities from which to choose. Let’s see… which identity do we worship? Racial identity? Gender identity? Political identity? Religious identity? Sexual identity? Social Class? Appearance? Ability? Whichever identity we choose, we tend to place it front and center, and we view ourselves and everyone else through that lens. The motive for choosing our identities appears to be earnest and sincere and well-meaning: We want to identify ourselves, we want to have a personal brand. We want to have a world view through which we can look at everyone else. So most of us have embraced one identity among the options as if our lives depended on it.

Out of all the options, the one identity worthy of being the centerpiece is that of being an image-bearer. This is the only foundational identity that goes deeper than anything else into who we are, that truly defines us at the most basic level. Each of us as fellow human beings is sacred, because we are stamped by a holy God. Each of us has been imprinted with a likeness to our Creator God. Everyone has been handcrafted to reflect God’s character. Each of us has been created to represent God in this world. And that is not only our main identity but our life mission as well.

Image-bearing is a unifying factor among all human beings, it’s the one identity that we all share. The others mentioned above are secondary and incomplete. If we put one of the spokes of the wheel into the hub, the wheel won’t run properly, we have lost our purpose in life, our true self. All these other identities are not meant to be primary, whether racial, gender, political or sexual. They are not up to the task of central identity. Secondary identities are intended to be inspired by that one most primary identity. The spokes in the wheel are meant to be sparked by the hub, formed by it. The central identity of God’s image is meant to morally and personally shape whatever identity that is being considered in one’s self-definition. Every identity that we claim for ourselves which is not a direct off-shot of our image-bearing identity will be sadly lacking in depth or meaning.

The world does indeed suggest many different identities from which to choose. It’s relatively easy for us to fashion a self-made identity that is comfortable and makes a certain kind of sense. But do you center on your racial identity above all else? Image-bearing is more foundational and more basic. How about gender identity? Fine, if it’s based on biology of birth. Political identity? That might just change like the weather. Religious identity? Fine, if you’re centered on the Way, the Truth and the Life. Sexual identity? Are its morals formed by being an image-bearer? Social class identity? Seems to be based mostly on accident of birth.

Actually, do we really need a secondary identity? Once one accepts being made in the image of God, and accepts being God’s representative and reflection in this world, why look anywhere else?  Once you’ve discovered the foundation for your life, you can begin to build your character and your destiny. Once the hub of the wheel is in place, you can go anywhere.