3 Mindset Shifts Of Embracing An Image-Bearer Identity

“In the beginning, God created…”

These are the first words of the Bible, and the first thing God chose to tell us about himself: he makes things.

One of the next things we know about God is that he made us, people, in his own likeness.

So God created man
in his own image;
he created him in the image of God;
he created them male and female

Genesis 1:27

We are made in God’s image, or likeness. A reflection of who he is.

And, he’s a maker.

I believe that when people make things, they are expressing the image of God imprinted on their soul.

When human beings create order and beauty, they are following in the footsteps of their Creator.

What might happen if we began to view our own daily activities as creative works? How many pockets of hidden creativity might we discover?

Our cooking, our getting dressed, our cleaning the house, our obsession with labeling things, our writing a card, our spending-two-weeks-deciding-on-window-curtains—how would the way we think about these tasks/chores/responsibilities change, if we began seeing them as creative acts?

How would the way we view our children’s [apparently] chaotic play change, if we viewed it as an expression of the Image of God that they carry within?

Those legos, those sword fights, those obnoxious noises, those sticky, glue-y papers…they’re creating buildings, and stories, and music, and art. Kids are bearing his images without inhibition. What would be different if I could slow down enough to recognize this?

I’ve been asking myself these questions, and here are a few things I think might change:

1. I would not shame myself as often

Despite constantly hearing the message to “be ourselves,” it can be one hard thing to actually do. For whatever reason, if “being ourselves” looks different than the way our neighbor is his or herself, we feel we need to change.

Shame comes in many packages. Sometimes it looks like feeling un-sophisticated next to someone with “better” taste in art. Sometimes is looks like pressure to keep our home to a certain standard of neatness, or updated-ness, or even cleanliness. It can look like telling myself there’s something wrong with me, because I can’t decide between paint colors.

But if we were to zoom out and refocus, this is what we might see instead—how we do what we do is our own unique way of reflecting God’s image, and there is no need to change that just because someone else reflects him differently.

It doesn’t follow that we should never improve or grow. Maybe it’s a good idea to educate myself about art, or change my organization style, or practice making paint color decisions faster. The point isn’t the “what” or the “how much.” It’s the “why”.

When shame is the impetus, it’s not a good why. If the desire isn’t to create, or worship, or find the receipt I need more quickly, I may want to question it. If it stems from a place of wanting to “measure up”, instead of a desire to reflect God’s image well (and those are totally different things), it may be born of shame, and not freedom.

2. I would be able to tolerate a little more mess and chaos

Let’s be honest. Simply believing that my toddler is reflecting God’s image doesn’t mean I’m going to live every single day with toys covering the floor, peanut butter finger-painted across the table, or the same three notes hollered through my house for forty minutes straight.

No way.

But it does mean I can appreciate what my son is doing as a developing, expressive, and Image-bearing human being, before complaining about the noise or the mess—he’s actually living into his creative identity. I can live with a little less order, a little less quiet, and a little more stickiness, when I think about things from this perspective.

3. I would be more aware of the presence of God in the midst of daily life

I open the door to acknowledging God’s presence when I intentionally seek to view my little world as one humming with creative work. In moments where I might otherwise miss him, I can recognize his image on display, and stand in awe.

I believe this is why creative work leads us to worship—it reminds us whose we are, and that he is here with us, now.

Changing how I categorize creativity sounds worth a try, I think.

Are you a writer and/or creative? (Or want to be?) I send out an occasional curated collection of resources, separate from my monthly letter on identity, to help creative workers sustain, nourish, and energize their words and art. Sign up to receive it, below.

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