Testimonies exalt God, encourage believers, and evangelize the lost. Our churches need more time for personal testimonies as a corporate way to remember God’s gracious work in our lives. You can read more of my recent post at 9marks.org.
(Below is a Communion Meditation I shared at my local church. This was one way to remember and rejoice in Christ through Communion, not a detailed explanation of it.)
With August upon us, it’s back-to-school time. With things launching at school and in the church, things are extra busy. The to-do list piles up even while other things get neglected, which leaves us feeling guilty or distracted. The demands of life don’t go away when things get busier. There’s still our house to clean or repair work needing done, cars to fix, bills to pay, emails to respond to, books to read, families to spend time with, relationships to invest in, friends to stay in touch with, parents and siblings to not neglect, and neighbors to reach out to.
Sometimes, when walking around in my yard or living room, I sense I’m being followed. And I am, by my toddler.
This Sunday, our church begins a four-week series on biblical manhood and womanhood. That could raise dozens of questions to answer and a person’s understanding of manhood and womanhood is applied in many ways. There’s a lot we won’t get to cover, but we’ll consider what it means to be made in God’s image, what biblical manhood and womanhood looks like, and how that applies to singleness and roles in marriage. Our church holds to the theological position known as complementarianism, and this will show up throughout the series.
In my last post on what it means to be an image-bearer, I referenced her book Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image. It answers the theological questions about being made in God’s image while helping us to practically live them out. If you’re wanting to learn more on the topic, or if you hear people talk about the imago Dei and have no idea what they mean, I’d recommend starting with her book. Here are a few of my favorite quotes.
“The glory of God is a human being fully alive; and to be alive consists in beholding God.” Irenaeus
“Thus humans may be said to have a reflexive identity. In some sense they find meaning outside themselves by virtue of what they reflect.” Richard Lints
There are few questions more significant than what it means to be an image-bearer of God. It’s at the heart of what it means to be human. It governs our ethics, calling us to see every person (not just those like us or those we like) as valuable and treat every individual with dignity, respect, and honor. It helps us answer questions like these:
- Why do we exist? What is our purpose?
- What makes human life valuable?
- Where does our worth, dignity, and value as human beings come from?
- How should I talk to, treat, interact with, and relate to this person or group?
Identity has (rightfully) received more attention in recent years. We all want to know who we are. Every human person’s identity question (Who am I?) is fundamentally answered by what it means to be created in God’s image. We must factor in how sin scars, mars, and wrecks the image of God in us without eliminating it, and then how in Christ we’re remade into God’s great design for us as his image-bearers, but we can start with some simple thoughts on what it means to be an image-bearer.
I love books. All kinds of books. Some books prove especially meaningful in specific seasons. Some books are timeless. There are books you read slowly, chipping away over time, and there are books you want to read in one sitting. Some books you never finish. Some books you read once. And some books you’ll read many times over a lifetime.
In every church I’ve been at, as I meet believers from other churches, and as I interact with people in my city (and sometimes overhear conversations), I often hear a similar line of thinking from people who feel like they aren’t growing in their church. They might be involved, but they express discouragement and disappointment because they walk away each week not feeling like real growth and life-change are taking place.
After rising earlier in the morning than we wanted, identity questions invade our mind as we look in the mirror, think about the upcoming day (or breakfast), and decide what to wear. Do I want my clothes to be the casual me, the dressed-up me, the outdoorsy-me, the stylish-me, or the “life beat me down so I didn’t care” me? We don’t realize we’re thinking in terms of identity, but the questions of “Who am I? Who do I want to be? How do others view me?” shape us all day long.
“Believers are never told to become one; we already are one and are expected to act like it.” Joni Eareckson Tada
Many churches talk a lot about the cross, and I’m thankful for that. A steady diet of the gospel and understanding how Jesus pays for our sin feeds and nourishes our hungry hearts. But we often ignore that Christ’s death unites believers as one. It’s a reconciling, peace-making act bringing people together. It creates a real, objective unity among Christ’s people (the Church) around the globe and across history.
If the cross not only saves us but it also shapes us, then it will propel us to pursue peace and resist division.