Saturday, November 22, 2014

Christianity is finding your true identity

Who are we? What are we here for? Are we of any value, do we have any significance, or are we meaningless, purposeless, valueless, randomly assembled conglomerations of atoms which will someday come apart never to be reconstructed?

Recently I've been talking about the process of becoming a Christian, which is the process of assuming a new identity. I've said that it involves forgetting your previous identity, and assuming a new one which is like God. There's another important thing to remember, however, and one which makes the process of becoming a Christian that much more exciting: it is also a matter of discovering your true identity.

I wrote earlier that Christian salvation can be understood by the doctrine of theosis: we become like God. I want to emphasize that this theosis is not a matter of our becoming something unlike or unnatural to us, but rather that it is merely becoming what God had intended for us from the beginning.

As I cited earlier, Genesis teaches that humanity was created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1.26-7). We were made to be living icons of God on the earth, to represent him and to embody his presence to one another and to all creatures. This is the purpose of humanity, this is the calling and direction that God gave it. We lost this image and likeness, however, through sin and through downfall of the human race. Rather than being loving and forgiving, we became hateful and angry; rather than having knowledge, our minds were futile and darkened (cf. Eph 4.17).

There is another thing to notice here, too. Those who live their life in sin and who think that this is the way for them to live, according to Paul, are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart (Eph 4.18). They don't understand things properly, and that means that they don't understand who they are, either. They don't know what they are, what they are here for, what is the right way for them to live, and so on.

Becoming a Christian is having your mind enlightened to your true identity, to your true calling, to your true place in the world. It is a matter of discovering who you really are, and finding that you are the image and likeness of God! That's the gift that God gave humanity: to be like him. Christianity is the lifelong process of discovering and enjoying this gift.