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The Truth About You: Day 5

Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms… I am going to prepare a place for you…and I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am.
John 14:2,3

It’s a curious thing about the Bible. If you are familiar with the beginning, you already know the ending: a perfect world of perfect peace where we will live in perfect harmony under the perfect reign of a perfect God of perfect Love for all eternity.

The truth about you is that you—and all humanity—was made to spend eternity with God. The truth about you—and all humanity—is that, although God has chosen you, you are free to choose or reject Him.

Christianity isn’t a lifestyle option; it is an irrevocable calling (1 John 2:19). To be His image bearer in this very dark world is to willingly expose the corrosion and dust that would erode His identity in us to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to patiently—often painfully—expose the glory of God that is hidden beneath. That process is called sanctification. And it won’t be completed this side of eternity.

Ah, and eternity. We all choose our identity and in so doing, we choose our destiny. For those with a worldview powered by self-improvement through self-effort, time will fade and confuse that original image of God with layers of seeking after what seems right in one’s own eyes (Judges 21:25). And, one day even that poor, distorted likeness will be completely obliterated by the dust of the grave and the judgment to follow.

For those who choose to follow Christ and yield to His Spirit through the painful and glorious process of sanctification, this is the future:

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see His face and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever (Revelation 22:3-5).

Nancy Shirah

The Truth About You: Day 4

He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God…for God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:15, 19-20

What kind of parent would leave a two-year-old to figure out on their own that knives cut, stairs pose a danger to life and limb and rocks are a choking hazard? No, a good parent, both by discipline and example, teaches the child the uses of and the potential dangers from knives, stairs, rocks and a thousand other things. In time, the proper caution is instilled and life is safer and better.

What kind of God would give His children a beautiful world, amazing gifts and the freedom to enjoy it, then, leaving them to their own devices, sit back and watch while His children attempt to discern the good from the bad, the life-giving from the death-bearing?

Not the God of Scripture. From the Old Testament record we know that, through the Prophets and the Law, He tried to reach a human race increasingly attracted to corrupt desires and sinful patterns. Even His clear discipline for their rebellion failed to effect a change of heart that would bring lasting repentance, a return to God--and the glory for which they had been created.

Then God sent His Son, not a decent copy or hit-or-miss representation, but the perfect image of who He was and who we were created to be. Our Savior left us the perfect Example. Not simply an example of wise words or unselfish deeds. He left us an example of perfect obedience borne of willing surrender to His Father’s plan.

… and being found in the appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross! (Philippians 1:8).

Through the power of God, Jesus Christ re-introduced that original image of God to a humanity for whom the imprint had been buried under generations of sin and rebellion. On one hand, dominion over the created order in His miracles; on the other, loving submission to the Father’s will-- from humiliation and death to victorious resurrection.

If and when we, by faith, invite the Holy Spirit of Christ (John 14:25) to reside in us, to teach us that path of loving trust and simple obedience that Christ modeled and to reveal and refine that image of God in us - then we will begin to understand the real truth about us.

Nancy Shirah

The Truth About You: Day 3

You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.
Genesis 2:16

But God gave us another gift, another likeness to Him that, had He omitted it, would have rendered the others meaningless. Many believe it was the greatest gift of all; others see it as a truly terrible idea.

That wonderful/terrible gift is, of course, the gift of free will. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey, a glass cracked and shattered and the first couple stepped over the shards into a new world of possibilities. It is a world whose possibilities mankind is still exploring and whose limits he is still testing.

We are free to choose…

To use our creativity to distort and destroy.

To use our spirituality to relate to evil forces and satanic beings.

To use our ability to communicate to build unhealthy and destructive alliances.

To use our magnificent minds to think unwholesome thoughts that lead us to corrupt actions.

To use our morality to know good from evil and to deliberately choose the latter.

No one knows how long Adam and Eve lived in the garden in innocent perfection. However long, their free will during that period was completely intact; it is just that their world was one of only good choices and Godward thoughts. Each day their deepest joy (they didn’t know any other kind) was being with and learning from their Father.

Into that peaceful, perfect world came the lie of Satan: God is not enough. There is a bigger world than the one He has provided for you. His truth is limiting, His power is insufficient, His wisdom is narrow, His ways are restrictive.

That lie still plays to packed houses all over the planet.

We have a precious two-year-old grand-daughter who has been loved, cared for and doted on from her first breath. But, all of a sudden, she is aware of a big world out there, and the people who have only given her good things have become somewhat suspect to her view of things. Do knives really hurt you, are stairs really that harmful, can eating rocks really be that big a deal? In her case, the answers seem simple. How many of us, though, are asking the same kinds of questions and pretending (to God and ourselves) that the answers are any less straight-forward.

Nancy Shirah

The Truth About You: Day 2

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.
Genesis 1:26-27

What does it mean to be made in the image of God? One thing we know is that it is not a physical resemblance; man is material and God is Spirit (John 4:24). Therefore, that image is non-physical, imprinted on our soul/spirit. We also know from Genesis 1:27 that this image is equally represented in male and female.

Like God…

We are creative: Every human makes things. They take what they have and re-order it to a new purpose or delight. You may not like the cake you baked or the thrift-store table you re-finished, but those are creative acts.

We are spiritual: More than body, we are soul/spirit. We look up, we wonder, we see beyond today’s reality to tomorrow’s hopes and dreams.

We are relational and communicative: Babies who are given food and water, but no nurturing, will sicken and die. To humans alone has been given the gift of language. By that, we reach out to make and build relationships.

We are intelligent: The human mind produces a constant flow of ideas, connections and conclusions and has a way of analyzing that information that is unique to each individual.

We are moral: Although we have fallen far from our initial innocence, we have a conscience that is able to differentiate good from bad and recognize differing consequences.

All these abilities were giving to us by God to equip us for dominion. But dominion is more than “ruling over.” It is fully knowing, creatively managing, constantly improving and, most of all, deeply enjoying.

This dominion had two sides, however. We were created to live under the dominion of a God who fully knows, creatively manages, constantly improves and deeply enjoys each of His children. Under His dominion we can grow in every possible way, intellectually, morally, spiritually, relationally. In knowing Him, in delighting in His ways, we can also discover the source of our deepest security, joy and peace.

Nancy Shirah

The Truth About You: Day 1

When I look at the sky, which You have made, at the moon and the stars, which you set in their places—what are human beings, that you think of them; mere mortals, that you care for them?
Psalm 8:4 (Good News Bible)

What is the most important thing about you? What is the fact or quality about you that defines who you are? To put it another way, what is the grid through which you filter, not only everything that happens to you, but how you will respond to it?

If you have no answer for that, our culture has a couple of ideas for you: gender and ethnicity. Women are oppressed and undervalued and men hold all the power. (If you believe otherwise, it just shows—poor you—how badly you have been fooled.) The same goes for ethnicity: white equals power and privilege; anything else is inescapably second best.

If you are a Christian, however, those answers don’t wash. In Galatians 3:28 it says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Your gender, your ethnicity, your position in life—advantaged, underprivileged, anywhere in between—cannot hinder the Spirit’s eternal plan for you and His work in you.

So, if you are a Christian, what is the most important thing about you? What provides that grid of both evaluation and response? If you are a Christian, the most important thing about you is not an identity, but a calling. That calling is to be a worthy image-bearer.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26).

All that had come before, distant planets, whirling galaxies, majestic mountains, fathomless oceans, spouting whales, surprising elephants, sparkling hummingbirds and a million other amazing things were intended to display God’s power. In creating mankind, God gave us an insight into His Mind.

A friend of mine has a saying, “It’s all about you, cupcake.” Well, this week it is. To understand who God created us to be and what He intended for us, is the most wonderful and up-lifting of truths. To miss it and settle for the second-best selfies that the world is peddling, is just too sad to think about.

Nancy Shirah