As we begin a new year, we’re beginning with the beginning of everything. Genesis 1 and 2 tell the story of the world and how everything in it came to be. This Sunday we will talk about the beginning of human identity. We find that Scripture teaches that human beings are made in the image of God. We are made like God, by God, for God and for the flourishing of the created order. This is the true self. We are like God as whole people, in our whole being. This means that every human being has intrinsic value and worth, because they bear in their souls the image of God. This also means no one is known, or can know oneself, in isolation. Human Identity does not exist apart from God. It is an identity bestowed, derived from our Creator. We either find our identity in God or something other than God.
The Bible tells us that the first humans found their identities - their sense of self - in the God who made them and loved them. The author of Genesis captured the beauty of the God-centered self when he wrote, “The man and woman were naked and knew no shame.”
But human identity became distorted with the fall of humanity into sin. Adam and Eve sought to be like God, apart from God. Shame entered the human story. They hid from one another and God. And humans have been hiding every since. The true self is hidden behind masks, walls and the false narratives we tell ourselves. We have ceased to reflect God’s image to the world, and reflect other gods instead. And like the first humans, we too desire to be like God apart from God. We find our worth and value in all manner of created things - wealth, power, beauty, fame - instead of the Creator whose image we bear.
The good news for us is that in Christ, God has saved us from ourselves! He can heal the broken sense of self, and restore the image of God in us. We no longer need to hide, to posture, to exploit others to secure safety for ourselves. At the beginning of a new year, we remember in Christ God has restored us to our true selves, and we can re-bear the image of God for our good and the good of God’s world.
In preparation for worship this week, read the whole of Genesis 2 and 3, and take the time to list every contrast you can between the story of the creation (Ch. 2) and the fall of humankind (Ch. 3) . Ask the Lord to help us to be honest with ourselves and one another as we begin the new year together.
Our worship guide can be downloaded here.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.