The Cross and Understanding Yourself

Sarah Weber | Aug 27th, 2009

Who are you really? What are you supposed to be like? What, or whose purpose do you serve? What does it mean to be alive and made in the image of God? Do you question God? What do you dream for and how does that compare with God’s dreams for you? And what does all of that have to do with Jesus' death?

You may have heard various slogans on the meaning of life, such as "you are what you eat", "believe and achieve", "life’s for living" etc. But what does the Bible say about this? The Bible actually provides compelling and convincing ways of explaining who you really are. The Bible tells of the sacrificial love of God for you, and how nothing was spared in order to win you back. Jesus’ death defeated evil on both a cosmic and personal level, and he will return one day to rule the world. How then will you live?

You have life ... but not independently of God.

Have you ever stopped to consider how perfect the conditions of this earth have to be in order for life to begin? It's incredible. So, what are we to make of this life? As the Bible has it, life comes only from the living God. He breathes the breath of life into all things and they depend on him for ongoing life. Genesis 2:4-7 tells us that we were all created by God from the dust with his "breath of life". Some say that life is a gift, but the Bible pictures it more as a loan. Life is God's, not ours. This means we give account only to him at the end for our life. We have been given life in order to honour the giver of life, the Living God. None of us much like the idea of life not being our own. It is however a dangerous thing to declare independence from God, the ultimate source of life. The Bible states that human life is a different sort of life to any other. Genesis 1:27 and Psalm 8:5 tell us clearly that we were created in the image of God; that we uniquely catch his glory and project it to the cosmos; something no animal can do. We have been made by God only "a little lower than the heavenly beings ... and crowned ... with glory and honour" (Psalm 8:5). In light of this, what is the best way to live this life? If we are truly honest with ourselves, then we would admit that we just want a way to forget that time, and life, is running out. We are alive, yes, but we are not the experts at living. Are you living in light of God's plan for your life, or have you lost track of your Creator?

You may question God at times ... but do not accuse God of the wrong in your life.

Let's here consider our friend Job. A faithful, righteous and wealthy man, Job finds that everything is taken from him. He cries out in despair, questioning life, asking, "Why was I ever born?" (Job 3:3-13). Job’s friends are well meaning but hopeless: "It’s all for the best, you’ll see". Job keeps saying to his friends, "How can you argue with God? Isn’t he a cruel and distant God? Just, but unmerciful, silent and hard? Why won't God say anything?" No-one can answer this. Then, in Job 38:1-20, the Lord answers Job out of a whirlwind. Job is told what you and I need to learn and be reminded of about God. God is God and we are not. Can you claim to have spun the globe like a spinning top, or to have moulded Sydney Harbour with the tips of your fingers? Stop pretending that you can live independently of your Creator. We human beings; wise and beautiful though we are, are still creatures; limited in understanding and prone to getting it wrong. The Lord himself is God and you are not! He has been from the beginning. Could you challenge God to a debate and expect to win?

You are wonderfully made ... but do not be obsessed by this. You are part of a wider body.

Turning to the body now, does it matter what you do with your body? Whose body is it anyway? The Bible’s testimony is that the body has an author who intends it for the work of naming, taming and filling the earth. The Poet of Psalm 139 knew what it meant to be made a body. The body is intimately known and wonderfully shaped by its Creator. Are you aware of your utter dependence on God? Were you there when your body was formed? Do you know the number of hairs on your head? Know this: your body belongs to a holy God. Those who understand themselves as having been remade as human beings because of Jesus Christ must understand the preciousness of their bodies. Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 that the re-created body of the Christian has a different purpose to other bodies. The purpose of our redeemed bodies is for doing the deeds of Christ. Jesus Christ has bought our bodies at the cost of his own body. He becomes the victim who voluntarily submits his body to be victimised – to be pierced, nails driven through his hands and feet, and a spear into his side, in order to purchase freedom for our bodies, releasing us from the control of evil. Therefore, submitting your body to the Lord’s ownership is not offering it to be abused or dominated, but allowing it to achieve the glory and honour for which it was made. Honouring God with your body, Paul describes, has to do with seeing your body as a member with other bodies of the body of Christ. So, does what you do with your body build up Christ's body, or does it threaten to tear it down? The body is profoundly precious, for it has been made and redeemed. So, what we do with our flesh really does count!

You have a dream for your life ... but God has a better one!

It is not too strong a statement to say that, along with our memories, our dreams are what make us human. Is it not our God-given capacity to want, desire, imagine and hope, that we are set apart from the animals and machines of this world? Think about it: do fish dream of speedboats? Did dogs think of canned dog food? Do computers imagine life with more RAM or a larger monitor? To be without dreams is like sitting on a bicycle without pedaling: you simply fall over. When we lose the ability to dream, we lose all sight of hope. The human ability to dream is, perhaps our greatest asset. What do you dream about? Maybe your dream home, that dream holiday with your dream date? There are also dreams on a much larger scale, such as world peace or the eradication of world poverty. But our dreams are often like castles made of sand. So, what about the frustration we feel when our dreams don’t come true? We can detach ourselves from our dreams, like Buddhists do. Or, we could escape like Hollywood encourages us to do. Strangely, the Bible suggests that it is God who frustrates our dreams. Romans 8:20 tells us that God has bound this world in frustration and decay. Why? Because this world is not all there is! We were made for something much better than this! God wants us to know that our dreams are often misdirected and only second best; pursuing castles made of sand.

Whatever your dreams, the dream that God has for you and for this world is so much bigger! God is calling us to share in his dream: that all people everywhere have a right relationship with him. God's dream will surely take place because of his only Son, Jesus Christ and what he did to bring about God’s dream. He became a sacrificial lamb, shedding his own blood so that we may be purified from all that corrupts us. By dying the death we should have died, Jesus Christ makes possible the end of suffering, the defeat of all that is evil, satisfaction for the thirsty and the filling of the hungry (Rev 21:1-6). When did God act on his dream? He did it on the cross. Matthew 6:33 reminds us to seek God's Kingdom first. So, lay aside your dreams and dream with God, then all the rest will be given to you. As Christians we should try and engrave God's dream in the world today, preparing it for what it will one day be. How do we do this? By loving God and one another, and by calling on others to do the same. God has a dream that one day you will stand before him cleansed of all your sin. God has a dream that one day you’ll be the person he intended you to be. Won't you dream with him?

Notes:

This article is adapted from Michael Jensen’s You: An Introduction (Sydney: Matthias, 2008).