I remember saying to my kids when they were young, “I know something you don’t know.” It was so fun, and it drove them crazy. Depending upon what I knew, I would draw it out for some time. After school in the car, I would ask them about their day and listen intently. I would ask about their classes and how things went with their quizzes and tests. I would ask about their friendships and maybe what was the best and worst parts of their day. If I’m honest, I miss those moments with my kids. But, when the time came, I would say, do you want to hear about my day? If they said yes, I would give them details. If not, I would simply say, “That’s ok. I know something you don’t know.” The drawn-out “Daaaaaad!” that would come from the back seat was hilarious. A sly smile would creep across my face as I delighted in their annoyance. Maybe I am a terrible parent. I know the Scriptures teach you are not to exasperate your children, but it was fun to tease them. The cool thing was, they knew something incredible was coming. At times it would just be a “no, 'no' day.” These were days when they could ask anything within reason, and we wouldn’t say no. It usually involved some junk food and a movie or some uninterrupted time, like a picnic. More often, it meant something larger.
We did this for weeks one time. Each time we told them we knew something they didn’t, the kids would get animated and kick their feet in excitement and frustration. It was exquisite. We are so evil. This particular time, we planned with friends to take a trip to Disney. The kids had no idea. We left worship, went to lunch, and ‘ran into’ our friends. We talked as we ate and asked what they were up to. We casually mentioned we should go somewhere together. The kids were bewildered. They were excited, but nothing really clicked. If I recall correctly, someone said, ‘We should go to Disney.’ We said “ok,” and the kids lost it! They couldn’t believe we said yes. It got even better when we told them the bags were already packed, and we were going right then. It was totally worth the weeks of torture, and we all had a blast.
Another time, I told my daughter I knew something she didn’t. She giggled expectantly, and without really any delay, I told her we were going to sushi. Needless to say, it didn’t get the same reaction as Disney. Plus, she hates salmon.
What does this have to do with being a Christian? As people who put our faith in Jesus, we know something others don’t know. We have knowledge that could change their lives. We are bearers of a Truth that could revolutionize our lives and the lives of everyone around us. I know you are probably thinking of the Gospel. You likely believe that the capital ‘T’ truth is that Jesus died for them. While that is part of the Gospel, it isn’t the entire story. It is only part of what we know that others don’t. I am talking about something that is tied to that, but is maybe more fundamental or even primitive. I am talking about the secret that every single human being, including you and me, has been made in the image of God.
You may not believe that it’s a secret and you may think it isn’t that big a deal. You may be saying to yourself, “Everyone knows that.” I don’t think they do. I don’t think they, or even those of us who know Jesus, get what it means entirely. Before you scoff, let me explain.
The idea that we are created in God’s image is one of the most critical pieces of capital “T” truth we can offer. It means a great many things.
Being an image bearer affects who we are, how we see ourselves, how we function in the world, how we look at Creation, how we interact with others and what we think our God is doing. It literally affects everything. It could be you’ve never thought about it this way, and if you haven’t, it is pretty likely those around you haven’t either. The Good News isn’t only for those around us, it is for us and as we enter in, we can invite those around us to this new experience of what it means to be human.
Being made it God’s image means we are not who we thought we were.
So much of our identity is caught up in what we do. We think of ourselves as our jobs or in our ability to produce things others find valuable. We say things like, “I’m a teacher.” or “I’m a pastor.” We define ourselves by our occupation, what we get paid to do. While this helps people understand, in part, where we might be coming from, it certainly isn’t who we are. It may give some frame of reference for what we like, what our skills might be, or what kind of ‘water’ we swim in, yet, it in no way encapsulates our identity. It has often been said that we are human beings, not human doings, but nearly everything in our world keeps us from reinforcing it. To be fair, no one answers the identity question with, “I am an image bearer of the Most High.” Try fitting that on a name tag. Maybe have someone introduce you this way, “This is my friend Bob, he’s an image bearer of the God of the Universe.” Of course, please don’t call yourself Bob. But you get my point. This simply isn’t the way things work. I would argue that our identity is one of the most critical components of our lives. We operate out of who we believe we are. At the very least, we will look at our actions or attitudes as reinforcing something we already believe.
This is incredibly powerful. The belief, action, reinforcement dynamic creates deep grooves in us and shapes our mind in powerful ways. People have a difficult time overcoming beliefs and perceptions of themselves. It often takes a massive shakeup to move people from their primary identity.
When we claim the identity of an Image Bearer, we are confronting what the world thinks of us, and more importantly, how we think of ourselves. It is incredibly difficult and very liberating at the same time. We no longer need to ‘conform to the pattern of this world. We don’t have to perform to have value, we are valuable because we are. Living into that Truth is incredibly challenging, but it can, and must be done. There is too much at stake to live any other way. The very image of the Creator must be faithfully represented in this world. There is so little of it happening. As Christians, we know something others don’t know. We know about our inherent worth. We know that each and every human, regardless of position in life, skill, intelligence, color, sexual preference, religion, country of origin, gender or political stance is made in the Image of God. God is uniquely reflected in and through each human being. We have the unique opportunity to look for God’s image in everyone we meet. It doesn’t matter if they are the co-worker who drives us crazy, the angry person in traffic, the difficult family member or special needs student. It is time for us to start acting and believing like we know this to be true. This capital ‘T’ truth can change everything about us and those around us, and we can’t keep it secret.