Who are you in Christ?
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After writing last week’s post about the need for us to do everything we can for God, and to stop saying “it does not matter how much or how little I do”, I remembered something else that I am always hearing from people that I find equally frustrating (ok, the correct word is irritating – immensely so – grrr) whenever I encounter it. “Oh, God could never use me, I’m too _____________” OR “I’m only _______________”. First question – do you actually believe this, or are you just using it as a convenient excuse behind which to hide, to escape from having to “roll up your sleeves” or “get your hands dirty” in working for God’s Kingdom? If deep down you know that it is just an excuse, then you have to stop it immediately. God knows when we are deliberately lying to ourselves, and He is not impressed.
However if you sincerely believe this, that you are too small for God to use, then you have to ditch this thinking immediately. God did not make any of us to be “small” or “ordinary”, but has called us all to excellence in His Kingdom. By limiting yourself to “small me” thinking, you are depriving the world of the person you could be, and you are depriving the Kingdom of God of the service that could come from the spiritual giant that you could be.
God did not make any of us to be ordinary.
Well as it is the season of winter I have been thinking a lot about the topic of snow – mainly how grateful I am that we have escaped any significant snowfall in the UK this year. And yet let’s take a minute to think about the snow. Many years ago I sat around with a few friends, trying to estimate the volume of snow in cubic metres that would fall in a particular country in one season. The UK is not necessarily hit very badly for snow, but some other countries, like Russia, Canada, Japan, the Nordic countries – they are all snow experts. Imagine how much snow would fall over the course of a single winter in all these countries! Then imagine how much snow has fallen over the course of the whole of history in the whole world. It would take perhaps hundreds of thousands of snowflakes to make up even a single kilogram of snow. And yet, every single last one of these snowflakes in every kilogram of snow in every snowfall that has ever fallen in all the countries around the world in the whole course of history – every last one of these snowflakes, has been utterly unique. This is the kind of God that we serve! It is not as if snowflakes have any huge purpose in “the grand scheme of things” – they are after all inanimate objects (although according to a Metro article I read a while back, each flake is “controlled” by a tiny bacterium – wow – here is a link to an article on this topic on an online paper that I could find) they are only a kind of very cold precipitation, or a means by which water returns to the earth from the sky. And yet to think that God still bothered to make each and every one distinctly unique. Here is a scientific post about this topic. I find that immensely humbling.
And then if we actually think about living things – even a simple blade of grass is not actually “simple” at all, but is a powerhouse factory of immensely complex chemical processes and photosyntheses all happening at once in a complex and tightly woven interplay. I’m sure that if humanity could reliably mimic the processes that occur in just a blade of grass, as efficiently as these processes occur in a blade of grass, then our energy problems would be solved. Of course, each blade of grass is unique as well. I once read that in a field of sunflowers, no two sunflowers will be at the same height (at the same time, I imagine). And then there are actual animals. Once again there is that ongoing theme of uniqueness. Looking at our planet it is so clear that God has created everything to be amazing, to be excellent, to be intricate – even tiny animals like ants or grasshoppers, and then you have polar bears and dolphins and lions and giraffes and trees and roses and other flowers and mountains and ravines and the sun and the solar system and galaxies and the entire universe.
Everything that God has created is phenomenal, not because of any effort of its own, but rather because of the God who created it. And then there are human beings! The Bible says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139). This is true not only of human beings but of everything that God created. However, the big difference between us and animals, even the clearly majestic animals like eagles and elephants and the big cats and blue whales – is that we human beings are made in the image of God. We are more than snowflakes! We are more than blades of grass! We are more significant in the universe than any other animal, if human beings can really be called animals. Not only did God invest that unspeakable complexity into us that He invested into every other thing that He created, but He also assigned to us that breathtaking privilege, to be made in the image of God Almighty, almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth! This is something that no snowflake, no blade of grass, no lion no dolphin no giraffe can ever aspire to. We are not just animals, we are glorious human beings! This is true even if you are not a Christian, even if you violently reject God every moment of your life. Nothing and no-one can ever stop you from being a human being, God Himself will not strip away from you this dignity. (However it did happen once in the Bible, with King Nebuchadnezzar, when God relegated him to the status of a wild animal for seven years because of immense pride. After this he was restored to full human dignity, and even to his kingship).
God is an unspeakably awesome, powerful, incredible, creative, phenomenal Person, Creator and Inventor. Everything beautiful, excellent, brilliant, fantastic that exists on earth is ultimately His copyright. I sometimes wonder to myself what would happen if God asserted His copyright, the way we human writers and musicians do. I like to make things, and I will sometimes say “I made this dress from scratch!” and then I have to clarify “Well I did not grow the cotton myself, I did not extract the iron for the zip myself, I did not create the elements for the dyes myself.” So no, I never actually make anything from scratch, I just merely assemble the components together! God is the only One who truly makes anything “from scratch”. And because we are made in the image of this phenomenal God we also are entitled to think quite highly of ourselves too (although not nearly to the same extent, of course!) Another way of saying this is that the more highly you think of God, the more highly you think of yourself as someone made in the image of this God.
This is true of everyone who is a human being, whether or not they actually believe in God. Just by virtue of being a human being you are not small. No, in fact, by virtue of the God who created you, there is nothing “only” about you. Even tiny
snowflakes snow crystals, as seemingly irrelevant as they are, are granted the dignity of being unique. And then to think that we human beings are living breathing beings, actually made in the image of this unspeakably awesome God. There is nothing “only” about any of us.
When we actually accept God, and come into His Kingdom, God calls us Kings and Priests onto Him – yes even the girls! The point about every last one of these characteristics is that all of them are caused by God Himself. None of them really has anything to do with us. No action I took made me deserve to be born human – I just am a human being – that’s the way God made me! Nothing made me deserve to be made in God’s image. All the amazing things about me are not about me at all – they are all about God. So it is with us as God’s children. We have to accept that God has made us to be amazing – and it is God that does this, through His own power. No tree, no lion, no whale ever achieved its status by its own power, or because it “deserved” it. God gave all these things their status by His power. So what we are capable, or what we feel capable of doing, or not doing is utterly irrelevant. The responsibility to make us amazing does not lie with us any more than it lies with us to make our own hair grow or keep our own heart beating. The only things we have to do are to eat the right food, and exercise – and God does the rest. So it is with working for God. We have to make sure that we feed ourselves on God’s work, and “exercise” out our faith. God will do the rest, the way He unfailingly does in every other part of creation.
“But Tosin, you don’t understand, I don’t feel…” Sincerely, it honestly does not matter in the slightest what you feel. If your feelings are inclined in another direction, throw out your feelings, embrace the truth. Hang up a mirror and everyday look into it at yourself and say at yourself ten times “I am made in the image of God! I am made in the glorious image of an unspeakably awesome God. God is calling me to be a giant in His Kingdom!” The effect of negative feelings is that they stop you from doing what you are supposed to do. It is like God is calling you to be a lion for His Kingdom, and because you “feel” like a mouse you go and hide in the grass.
So get up, stand up like that giant that God is calling you to be. Pick up that Bible, get on your knees, and get a-fighting for God in prayer, and get sharing that Gospel with people around you who don’t know God. God is calling you to be strong and excellent for Him, because He wants you to do excellent work for His Kingdom. It is not about whether you “can” or you “can’t” Frankly, no-one of us human beings “can” by our own power – but God definitely can and by His power, He is able to make us all that He wants us to be. But we’ve got to get out of that grass! 😉
Frozen plant image by George Hodan at http://www.publicdomainpictures.net
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