My goal for this series is to explore the ideas of identity and vocation and how they can apply to our lives. All of this discussion and the opinions coming out of it are held very loosely, but because these are such important topics, it’s worth wrestling with them a bit.
For example, when I said on Monday that Identity and Vocation are two separate topics, that’s true, but now, after more thought and reading, I think they flow so seamlessly together that it’s easy to see why they are often combined. So, you know, opinions loosely held.
Today I want to explore what it means to be an image of God.
Is being an image bearer just being a creation of God?
But then a blade of grass or a tree could be an image bearer.
Is it just being a reflection of God?
But a tree reflects God’s beauty, creativity, and scientific engineering.
Maybe we should go back to what it means to be human?
We are “bearers of the image of a relational God”
“Human persons are – fundamentally and primordially – lovers.”
We love. We’re built for relationships. Somehow we reflect God.
Which makes me think, what qualities does God have?
I envision this idea of bearing an image something like being a mirror. Whenever we exhibit traits like these, we reflect God. And to the extent that we don’t, we have “marred identities.”
But then, another idea to wrestle with. From Pete Enns:
“The phrase “image of God” is not about what makes us human. It is about humanity’s unique role in being God’s kingly representatives in creation.”
Kingly representatives. We are to take care of the world as God would. On earth as it is in heaven. Which sounds something like doing. So it seems like our vocation flows out of our identity.
And then, an idea that came from a discussion yesterday. If what we do displays the image of God, how does that differ from our doing that comes out of our vocation?
Again, from Enns: “… we are called to live daily in such a way that embodies more and more what that image looks like. Jesus is both the cause of our renewed image and the model we follow as we try to live that way.”
Maybe by taking up our identity as Pete explains it, is part of what it means to love God. We are honoring his image in ourselves, when we put action to who we are. We honor his image in others when we treat them the way we want to be treated.
Identity matters because it grounds us in God. If we believe everyone is created in the imago dei, then they are worth loving. They are worth working for. They are worth forgiving and redeeming. We have to be rooted in resurrection.
Being an image-bearer means we are to reflect God in how we love, how we treat others, and how we treat the earth. How we do all of these things comes out of our vocation, our personalities, gifts and talents.
To the extent that we mess this up, we have a marred identity. But when we do them in right and healthy ways, people can look at us and get a glimpse of who Jesus is.
What do you think? What does being an image-bearer mean to you? Do you have any good resources you’d recommend on identity?