Episode 1. Delighted in Who You Are
Low self esteem is a chronic disease in our society – particularly among women. Don’t believe me? How many people cringe when they see themselves sin a photo? The reality is, very few people are delighted with who they are Awesome week this week, and in fact next week on the program as well; I’m […]
Low self esteem is a chronic disease in our society – particularly among women. Don’t believe me? How many people cringe when they see themselves sin a photo? The reality is, very few people are delighted with who they are
Awesome week this week, and in fact next week on the program as well; I’m joined today by Dr Barry Chant who’s just released his latest book, “Living In The Image Of God”.
Now Barry’s one of the giants on whose shoulders I’ve had the privilege to stand, one of my lecturers and teachers at Bible college and a man through whom God has taught me so much.
One of his passions, one of the things I’ve heard him speak about over and over and over again is this whole idea of living our lives in the image of God. Most people who believe in Jesus kind of know that we’re made in the image of God but how often are we actually living our lives as though we are, living our lives IN the image of God.
This life here on earth ain’t a dress rehearsal, we have one life to live here in this place, in this age and it would be such a senseless waste to squander it. Barry welcome to the program.
Barry: Thanks Berni, great to be with you.
Berni: Now this whole concept of living creatively, living in the image of God, it’s not a new one in your life is it? I mean in fact as I read the book it came to you quite a few years ago through a presentation from one of your students. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Barry: To go back even before that I remember talking to an older minister on one occasion, he taught me how someone in his congregation has asked him, “What does it mean to be made in Gods image?” And I sat there thinking I’m glad he didn’t ask me because I had no idea at that time.
But then yes, teaching at Bible College and I had students doing little short talks, learning public speaking and one young woman gave a talk on Genesis chapter 1 about being made in God’s image. And she said this means being made as a person who’s creative because of course at that stage in Genesis 1 there’s the story of God creating the heavens and the earth and I thought, “Now there’s an idea”. And really from that I began to think about it.
The other thing that happened, once we had a number of young people who had come really off the streets into Bible College, they were brand new Christians. They had come to know Christ, they had a very genuine faith in Him and their lives had been changed but their habits hadn’t quite caught up with them.
They had been squatting in other people’s houses, they were sleeping until midday and staying up until four in the morning and on drugs and cigarettes and everything, and they were untidy and they didn’t know the first thing about just how to live an ordinary life.
And I began to put those two things together and I thought, “We understand who God is and we’re made in His image, that gives us a model, a concept and more than that it gives us a power to have our lives turned right around and to live positively and live in a way that actually looks a bit like God.’
Berni: Yeah, because you read Genesis chapter 1 – and I remember doing this exercise in one of your classes a lot of years ago now – and if you knew nothing else about God other than what Genesis 1 tells you, you discover an incredibly creative God.
Barry: We do and I’m impressed that you remember after all those years.
Berni: See some stuff stuck.
Barry: I say to students, lets imagine that you’ve never read the Bible before. You know nothing about God, all you’ve read is these first twenty six, twenty seven verses. There you see that God says:
Let’s make human beings in our image.
Okay so then you’ve got to go back and say, “Who is this God that says this and what is His image?” In the classroom people come up with all sorts of wonderful ideas about that but some things really stand out. One is, God is the creator and creative and of course behind that lies all sorts of things like, “He’s clearly therefore a person who can think and who can design and who can plan, who can organise, that’s all part of that”.
Then of course He has power to do it and then He goes on to tell human beings that they should exercise mastery over the earth. So mastery, self control, that’s another thing. And then because God is spirit, because the same passage tells us that, living in His image means developing our spirituality.
And then it also means that when we understand that we’re made in God’s image then we have a real sense of identity, of who we are because many people tell us we’re sort of made or developed in the image of maybe some primeval amoeba or something which doesn’t do a lot for one’s self esteem.
Berni: Well let me ask you that, the whole issue of understanding identity, how many people do you think really understand this whole issue of identity, of being made in the image of God? Do we really get it?
Barry: Well you said before that a lot of people have very poor self esteem. Of course some have the other problem, they have extreme self esteem where they have a very inflated idea of who they are. And somewhere between those two extremes is a balanced view that says, to be realistic I am very well aware of my own faults, I know that I fail regularly; I also know that I’m a person of great potential.
I think understanding that you’re made in God’s image helps you to realise there is a potential there. And somehow it’s important to tap into that and to know how can I develop the potential that is there because even though I have sinned and even though I’ve failed I haven’t lost everything and I’m not a total wipe-out. There’s still a lot there that still reflects that image of God within me and so that then becomes a motivation of how to live. To say, okay I want to live my life so that it does reflect God like any other image, like a mirror image which reflects who God is.
Berni: And that sense of potential, if people get a hold of that that would be transforming wouldn’t it?
Barry: Undoubtedly and that’s really what my book’s about. It’s about transforming life through understanding what it means to be made in God’s image. But not just understanding, there’s also a faith factor. Maybe we can talk about that later but the faith factor means, it’s not just I want to develop the potential but by faith in God I can develop it and I can become a new person. I can live a different sort of life by faith.
Berni: Because we’re made in Gods image.
Barry: Yeah and that’s the point a lot of people miss because, I mean the fact is most religions as you know, the idea is if you want to be like God, even more if you want to get to heaven and you want to have eternal life or a better life next time round or something, you’ve got to pay money, you’ve got to pray a lot, you’ve got to do good works, you’ve got to do extra penance. Extreme things like I saw in China, Tibetan people prostrating themselves on the ground every metre and going for miles up and down on their faces and thinking every time they prostrate themselves it’s one more step nearer God.
And most people, most religions think like that but the Bible teaches us it’s the other way round, that we don’t become like God by what we do, we become like God because of what He did through His Son Jesus Christ. And it’s not our works that always lets us down but it’s His work that never lets us down that transforms us. And so having a sense of proper identity, knowing who we are that comes out of faith in what God has done not in what we do, there’s a big difference.
Berni: For we are Gods workmanship.
Berni: Created in Christ Jesus to do …
Barry: You did learn a lot.
Berni: I did, you couldn’t graduate from Barry’s class with learning Ephesians chapter 2, verse 10:
For we are Gods workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do the good works that he prepared beforehand for us to walk into.
Barry there’s someone listening today who’s struggling totally with their sense of worth and future and hope and destiny and identity, they’ve been listening to you today but they just can’t imagine that it’s all for them. What do you have to say to that person specifically?
Barry: Well it is all for them, that’s the answer. It is all for them because Christ died for everyone. He died for you, He died for me, He died for the whole world and He died in order that our past might be forgiven but that our future might be filled with hope.
There’s two sides to it, there are plenty of people who understand the need forgiveness for the past but they don’t understand that that implies also power to overcome sin in the future. The reality is there’s no sin that can’t be forgiven, there’s no sin that can’t be overcome.
There’s no weakness that can’t be dealt with, there’s no problem that is too hard for God to solve, there’s no difficulty too much for Him, He can handle it all. What we need to do is trust Him and put our faith in Him. We do that because Jesus died for us and because He died on the cross and because He rose again, then we know then that it can happen. It’s possible because God has shown His love for us through Jesus.
Berni: Absolutely. Barry it’s fantastic, thanks for the time today.
Barry: It’s been a pleasure Berni.