I want to tell you a parable.
There was a king who wanted to have more connection with the people in his kingdom, so he decided to have a weekly briefing. At the briefing, reporters from various news agencies in the kingdom would come to the briefing, and they would talk with the king, and disseminate the information through their news outlets. Newspapers, TV, internet.
There was one reporter who came weekly who had a special relationship with the king. No one else knew it, but that reporter was actually the king’s daughter. The reporter was a princess. Yet the only other person in the room who knew her identity was the king. This princess not only hid her identity in the briefings, she never asked questions. Furthermore, she and the king knew that these briefings were the only time the king ever saw the princess.
That is what we we’re talking about in this sermon series to start the new year. Our identity. We want to start 2020 with clear vision, with more of an understanding of who we are. With the goal of then being able to interact with our God, our families, our community in a more real and genuine way. In a way more like Christ. In a way that we were created to be. Do you ever find yourself questioning who you really are? Often times when asked about who we are, we state our occupation, or who we are married to, who we parent, whose child we are. But that is not the same as WHO we are, what our identity really is as a person. So who are you?
Often those questions come in the form of fear and self-doubt or self-loathing. “Am I good enough?” can lead to, “I am not good enough.” “Does anyone really like me?” can lead to, “No one really likes me.” We can dwell on our mishaps and failures, on our weaknesses, thus defining ourselves that way. Often we form identity by these kinds of negative views, maybe even by the lies that people have told about us. And we can rarely consider the truths about ourselves. We either don’t know our identity or we’re actively hiding it like the princess. The result is that we live out of a false identity. So what is our identity? Let’s find out. We start at the beginning. If you want, open a Bible to Genesis chapter 1.
The foundational biblical teaching is that all humans are created in the image of God. That is found in Genesis 1:26-28, when God says, “Let us make man in our image and in our likeness.”
As I’ve said in another post, “In that sense all humans everywhere are created by God, made in his image, and therefore have equal value. So there is a real way, and this is not just symbolic, in which we Christians can say that all humans are God’s children. In God’s eyes we are all equally precious and valuable. Even ISIS fighters, even child rapists, even your jerk neighbor, your arrogant coworker, difficult family member or bully classmate. Even the person sitting across the church sanctuary that you have a hard time with. All are created equal. All are desperately loved by God.”
But there is more. The Bible says that God is not just our creator, but our parent. The Bible uses both father and mother imagery for God. We normally call him God, the Father. But God does not have a gender. God is not actually male. God is not human. God is a Spirit.
What that means is that if we only consider the masculine ways of God, we could be missing out on the ways in which God loves us in a fully feminine way. And that has ramifications for our identity which we will look at in the next post.