Yes! Yes! Here it is!
Since I got out of my honeymoon period with Jesus as a new Christian in college, I have been looking for books, people, something to help me, to help explain to me my Christian life. There have been quite a few great books, quite a few great talks and quite a few amazing people, and I soaked sermons and talks up like a sponge—I was so hungry for something more. Was it that I did not grow up Christian? I just felt like I was missing a lot, and life with God led me to do and feel some strange things. The narrow path with Jesus for me has been exhilarating, but also lonely and difficult. And I know that as human beings we’re limited, and that it is not possible to understand fully, but still I wanted something to click, to connect the dots of my Christian experience.
Eventually I wandered into Regent College and found my missing pieces (for this season anyway): we are all made in the image of God, and in Christ, God is making all things new. Why had I not heard more about this in church? Did I just miss these emphases before?
We are all made in the image of God. To me, this means that every human being images God, has a picture of God, can show us God. Every human being is thus deeply valuable, deeply loved. This is mind blowing to me. Though I knew well enough to parrot the value of every human being, I somehow deep down have always believed the opposite. Somehow, I acquired this belief that those who are deeply valued and loved have accomplished something, have some great talent or skill, behave well, and are uber-rational and great-looking to boot. And they’re popular. But it is God’s deep love—his love that pre-existed my decision to become Christian that blows me away. If we are all already made in the image of God, then surely his love came first, and his pre-existing love does not need all my supposed requirements. Knowing that we are all made in God’s image gives a reason for his unconditional love, helping me believe more his unconditional love for me. And this feeling, this initial feeling of his unconditional love is what has compelled me (to use Paul’s word) to follow Jesus, to make him Lord and to give him my everything. This love—this pre-existing love, God first loving us, is what causes me to try.
We are being made new. Whether we know it or not, God is making us new. He wants to make us even more like him and also more like our true selves, as he always intended us to be. I mentioned in my first post that after my brother’s death, this phrase kept entering my head and heart: “in mourning your brother’s death, I will teach you how to mourn other parts of your life.” What do I do with this? What do I do with this dumbfounding, strange, bizarre phrase? What do I do with the long buried pain and memories rising up to the surface that seem all too connected to mourning my brother’s death? What is God doing? God’s constant act of transformation is the only thing that makes it make sense. There are things that I didn’t even realize were holding me back, but God knew and by bringing them up, he was giving me an opportunity to put them to death. Romans 8:20-1: “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” God allows and wills strange things but it is really for our best, for a new life of freedom, freedom of being fully his. We all die in the sense we lose what we think our lives will be, we lose our dreams and also the things that hold us back. We all die though only to gain life, to gain understanding and belief in things deeper and anew, moving forward in the midst of God’s reality and reign.
Obviously, I still do not fully understand these two concepts, but I now know what to think about, what to work towards understanding. For me, they re-energize my faith. They are like bookends to me…of how we started with God, created and what is to become of us, new and better shiny creatures in ever deeper and intimate relationship with him. They help me be on the way.
“I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.” —CS Lewis, (in his preface to Athanasius’ On The Incarnation)