In A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman and Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldridge, the same words keep being repeated over and over again. These two words have really gotten me thinking. They are the words “image bearer." Both authors use that term, and it is one I had not heard before. Yet, I love the perspective it gives.
In Genesis 1:27, the Bible says that we (human beings) were created in the image of God. We bear his image. I have known that truth, but when I think of myself as an image bearer, it seems a bit different. It seems more real, weightier, but is also freeing. It leaves me free to be the person God intended me to be when He created me.
The word bear, when used as a verb, means to hold up, or to support. But it can also mean to bring forth, to produce. It is an ACTIVE word. It denotes some work on my part. And a bit of responsibility. I carry His image. I am bringing it forth, producing it for the world to see. Emily Freeman makes the point that we, like Adam and Eve, were “made to be image bearers first and to do their good work out of their image bearing identity” (p. 24). She also says that “we all bear the image of a creative God” (p. 20).
I LOVE that truth! We are all so very different, and so very unique. No one is the same – and that is the way it was meant to be. His creativeness shows in each of us through our differences just as artists can show creativity through multiple, very different pieces of art. Each of us is unique, and that uniqueness is a direct reflection of the creative heart of God. That means that my life, my passions, my dreams, my struggles, my failings, my strengths, my scope of influence … they are all specific to me. And the best part? God made it that way ON PURPOSE! He specifically made me who I am to bear His image. To be an image bearer. To reflect His heart and His glory.
Yet, the bearing does not have to weigh me down, pressure me, or stifle me. It liberates me because it means by being myself – embracing my own unique personality, life circumstances, gifts and struggles - I am bringing glory to Him. Just by being me.
God has been walking with me on this journey of acceptance. It is a journey of learning to love and be myself rather than feeling an urge to be like someone else, or like someone might expect me to be. Stasi Eldrige says it well. “It is a beautiful paradox that the more God’s we become, the more ourselves we become – the “self” He had in mind when he thought of you before the creation of the world.“ It is a journey of me, living my life – all the ups, downs, quirks, and craziness - yet finding small little ways to bear His image as I do it. I just have to simply let Him in to those little parts of my life. Be more His, and I am more me.
Understanding this has been life-changing for me. I can bear His image by being me. I bear His image as I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend. I bear His image as I work, grocery shop, drive, in every moment of my life. Just by being me, I am bearing the image of Christ – showing His love and His creativity to the world around me. Just by living my regular old life. And that … well, that seems possible. I may not be a missionary, or have this amazing life story. But I can live MY life, and live it for Him. And in the twists and turns of my life journey, I am becoming an image bearer. Every day the image seems a bit more clear, and the work of bearing is a bit easier and full of joy.
What about you? Who are you, really? What is unique about you, about your life, your circumstances? What are your strengths, your weaknesses? What makes you ... well, you? Invite God into the very depths of who you are – who He created you to be. Then suddenly, you will be an image bearer too. Be more His, and become more YOU!
Enjoy the journey!
“So God created human beings in His Own Image. In the Image of God he created them....He breathed the breath of Life in to the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.” Genesis1:27, 2:7
“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out, before a single day passed. How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God.” Psalm 139:16-17