Origins

C.S. Lewis wrote, “All that we call human history–money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

Why would humanity spend its existence searching for meaning and purpose? Why do we all desire answers to the questions of life? Where do these inborn traits come from?

The answers to those questions lie in understanding our origins. If we do not understand why God created us then we will never find our purpose because we will search in the wrong places. Let us consider our primary, original purposes and perhaps this will help clarify your purpose and destiny a bit further.

GOD’S IMAGERS

In the beginning God created Adam and breathed into him. This is incredibly important because God did not breathe into any other created being in this realm. Only Adam, only humans, have this distinction. Indeed, this is what separates us from the animals. Modern evolutionists are fond of calling us animals, and in a sense we are quite similar to many of the creatures on earth, but we are radically different because only we carry the image of God imprinted on us.

Being an “imager” of God, a term Michael Heiser uses, means we reflect His qualities and attributes. We are made to be like God. Within us we carry abilities and gifts directly given to us by God that we were created to use to bless humanity and the earth. When we discover these through prayer and meditation and study, we will walk in our purpose and destiny and find the fulfillment we desire.

GOVERN CREATION

God’s command to Adam was to rule over the creation. Humanity was to “fill the earth and subdue it”. We were meant to landscape and garden and coax the beauty out of the earth. We were meant to domesticate animals and care for them. We were meant to shape the earth into a paradise where all humanity could live in peace. We still carry that mandate even though sin and death have made these tasks much more difficult.

When we understand we were created to be rulers and have authority, we understand the inborn desire we all have to dominate something. Whether that something is art, science, people, ideas, machines, animals, mathematics, etc., does not matter. We all carry within us this desire to master something and our struggle is to do just that. This is because of our rulership mandate.

It’s important to note that we were not originally designed to rule over people. This is a result of the fall. When the people of Israel begged God for a king to rule over them, God told them no before finally giving in to them. God’s design is for Him to be the ruler and for us to govern as His subordinates in the earth. When we are properly aligned within that structure, we will not see other people as threats to our desires but as fellow imagers who need our help to carry out their purpose and who can help us with ours.

CREATE

God does not specifically tell Adam to create, but creation is so integral to God’s nature it seems obvious that we were meant to create. Creativity comes in many forms, so I am not referring to a specific type of creativity. Whether one creates art, science, math, mechanics, poetry, kinetics, or music, all these are some of the many ways we can create.

Creation is about bringing something new into existence that is filtered through your consciousness. You are the unique factor in the process. My music composition professor in college was a world famous composer. He was fond of saying, “There’s only twelve notes!” He went on to say he believed no one could compose a truly unique composition because there would always be some piece of it that was not original to you. I agree with him because we are incapable of creating as God creates, and only God can bring something that never was into existence.

In other words, we can create using the universe around us, our minds, our spirits, creation itself…but we cannot create something from nothing. That should not stop us from creating. As His imagers we inherently desire to bring things forth into existence, and even if parts of our creations are not original, anything we create will be unique simply because it passed through our being into existence.

LOVE

When the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with their question about which commandment was the greatest, Jesus responded with two commands about love. He said to love God and love people. Perhaps our greatest reason for existence is to be carriers of His love in the universe. Because God breathed into humanity, we have the capacity to carry a part of God within us. Indeed, when we submit and receive salvation we are “born again” meaning our original spirit is imbued with life and power from Holy Spirit.

Once we are regenerated, God literally dwells within us. This means we have God’s love at work within our physical bodies and within our minds and spirits. When we are regenerated we suddenly have the ability to be a channel of God’s love from heaven into the earth. We can bring His love into the creation and to other people because He lives within us.

We have no higher calling. Jesus made this plain. We were designed primarily to reflect God’s love back to God and to other people. When we walk in this love we are walking in our original design and purpose. Everything else in your life will flow from this place. We must start and end with love and allow God’s agape love to bookend our lives.

ORIGINALS

You and I are originals. We were created to be imagers of God, to govern creation, to create, and to love. Understanding these original design specifications helps us to understand ourselves better. Walking in these traits and allowing them to shape who we are through the power of Holy Spirit will bring us into alignment with God so we will have peace and joy each day.

I pray you discover your destiny as you journey this path of life. It is only found within a relationship with Jesus because He is the original designer. Remember that you are uniquely and wonderfully made and God has a purpose for your life. May you surrender to Him and discover that truth today.

Where Your Heart Is…

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt. 6

Chances are you’ve heard or read this passage of scripture before. Sometimes we hear the same passages over and over and we miss details we should see. Read through the passage again. Do you see that Jesus says “where your treasure is…your heart will be”.

Often we tend to think of this backwards. We think where our heart is our treasure will be. Jesus said where our treasure is our heart will be. This means what we place value on, what we hold back for ourselves, what we treasure will determine the placement of our heart.

Using the definition of the word treasure, let’s consider the implications of the words of Christ.

KEEP CAREFULLY

The first definition of the verb treasure is to keep carefully. What we value we will protect. At night we lock the doors to our homes and our cars because we place value on them and their contents. If we leave our doors unlocked we are signalling to the world our feelings towards our home and all it contains. What we love, we protect.

Understanding this principle will help you understand people. When someone gets angry about something, consider what treasure of their heart is being threatened. In the same way, when you are irrationally angry, consider how and why you are feeling threatened. This will help you determine your true feelings toward people, God, and things, and it will help you correct areas where your thinking is out of alignment with Christ.

What you love, you will protect. Check the vaults of your life, both literal and mental and emotional. Are your vaults filled with earthly treasure or heavenly treasure?

CHERISH

Secondly, to treasure something is to cherish it. To cherish something is to care for it with gentleness. Anyone who has held a baby, especially their own child, can understand this concept. When you hold a baby you cherish it because you must. Babies are fragile and delicate and need to be cherished and held carefully. We do the same with our treasures.

In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, one of the characters (Cameron) describes how much his father loves his classic car. Cameron remarks, “He never drives it, he only rubs it with a diaper.” Sadly, Cameron makes this remark because his father in the film was cherishing the wrong thing. Instead of cherishing his son, he cherished a car. We often make the same mistake.

We should care for our treasures, but only when they are heavenly treasures. The treasures of this world are passing away. Let us place value on that which lasts: people, love, creation, expressions of joy, peace, Jesus Christ…and so on.

PUT AWAY FOR FUTURE USE

The final definition of the verb treasure is to put away for future use. Sometimes we put treasures away with no future purpose in mind. We store things in our attic and they sit and get old and serve no purpose. What we treasure should have value and purpose.

When we say treasure we generally think of money before anything else. Our treasure (our money) is in the bank. Well no one puts their money in the bank with the intention of never using it for its intended purpose. Our heavenly treasure should be no different.

What good is it to store up love in our heavenly bank if we never intend to use it to love God and others. As we store away eternal treasures, let us not consider them as objet d’art to look at and never use. If we make our heavenly treasures into the guest bathroom towels we are robbing them of their purpose and value.

HEART LOCATION

What you treasure you will protect, you will care for, and you will use for its intended purpose. Consider your life. Consider what you treasure. Determine what things in your life meet the criteria of treasure. As you open those vaults, both literal and figurative, you will discover within them your very heart.

From your heart flows your thinking, so if your heart is nestled among earthly, temporal things your thinking will reflect its placement. But if your heart rests with Christ in the eternal then your thinking will reflect His thinking.

Use Your Voice

How often do we skip the first couple of sentences when reading a book of the Bible? While preparing to teach the book of James I was intrigued by his opening sentence and decided maybe I shouldn’t just skip it. James opens with this line:

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.   – James 1:1

It’s a great opening because it sets the tone for the whole letter. James is a cut to the chase, here’s the point kind of guy and the opening gets us moving in that direction immediately. But that’s not what struck me most about these words. Instead, I considered that James’ words were powerful because they represented his voice.

Every follower of Jesus on earth has a unique voice. James was no different. If we want to be effective and be heard, we must discover our voice and use it to speak clearly. Two major identifiers mark James right from the beginning of the letter.

PERSONAL IDENTITY

First, James establishes his personal identity. He is a “servant of God” and a servant of “the Lord Jesus Christ”. No mistaking his loyalties or persuasion right from the outset.

I’m reminded of my cousin coming to me two years ago wanting to talk. He was searching in his spiritual journey and wanted me to help him along the path. I was clear with him from the outset. I told him, “I will gladly help you with one caveat: I will actively attempt to point you to Jesus Christ. I will talk about Jesus, bring everything back to Jesus, and make it all about Jesus. If that’s not ok then I can’t help you.” It was ok, and he soon discovered Jesus himself and his life has never been the same.

What was important in that exchange was setting my personal identity with Jesus. As His followers, we must daily and continually identify ourselves with Him. Some people will be offended by this, but we must remember that Jesus told us in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”

When we choose Jesus we are forever marked as His children. That is our primary identifier. It is now who we are. The new has come and the old has passed away. Like James, we must clearly define our personal identity with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

TRIBAL IDENTITY

Second, James describes his tribal identity. He is writing his letter to the “twelve tribes scattered among the nations”. Who are the “twelve tribes”? Jews, the people of Israel, but specifically James is writing to completed Jews who follow Jesus.

In Matthew 24:14, Jesus tells us that “the gospel of the Kingdom will preached in all the world as a witness to all nations.” Nations in this verse is the Greek word “ethnos”. We get our English word “ethnic” from this word. While this may refer to a political entity, as we think of the term “nation” in modern terms, it is more often referencing cultural groupings. This is important because we all walk within certain cultural groupings.

My first two years in college were spent studying music at Ouachita Baptist University. Music theory is one of the first, foundational elements you’re taught as a musician. It’s essentially learning a new language of notes, rhythm, sounds, and terms that allow you to instantly communicate in a deep and meaningful way with another musician. Because of this education I can now speak with other musicians anywhere in the world and we can communicate through the power of music. This makes one of my tribes the tribe of musicians.

You are a member of a tribe too, whether you knew it or not. Whatever your hobbies, interests, culture, or even (in America anyway) skin color, can open doors for you to speak to someone else in a unique language. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22 that he learned to “become all things to all people in order that I might win some to the gospel”. Paul understood that his voice as a member of a tribe could open doors for him to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with members of that tribe.

USE YOUR VOICE

If you know Jesus your personal identity is in Him, and as a human on planet earth you have at least one (probably many more) tribal identities. Your identities mark and strengthen the message God has given you. It’s up to you to speak out and use your voice to do good in the world and make a difference. Nothing makes a greater difference in people’s lives than meeting and knowing Jesus Christ, and you have a voice that unlocks doors no one else can open.

Use your voice. Share Jesus where only you can. Make your mark for the Kingdom.