What am I for?
German comedy show, Knallerfrauen’s famous ‘iPad’ sketch begins with a woman chopping potatoes. Her dad’s behind her cutting up herbs.
“So dad, how are you getting on with the new iPad I got you? Do you understand how the apps work?”
“Yer, good. But what’s an app?” he responds, using his knife to scrape the herbs from the device into the pan, before rinsing the iPad under the tap and putting it into the dishwasher.
It’s funny. But it illustrates something important. If you don’t know what something is, you won’t know what it’s for.
And it’s the same with people. You have to know what you are, before you can know what you’re for.
What you are
When God created humanity, he made no secret about who we are.
God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
We are little self-portraits – little mirror images of the good creator God. Have you ever stopped to think about how huge that is?
You’re a picture of the glorious, holy and eternal God.
What you’re for
But being the image of God isn’t only about who you are – it’s also a statement about what you’re for. It’s your identity and your purpose.
By creating you in his image, God’s saying, ‘I’ve made you like me, so go be like me. Love what I love. Do what I do.’
“Being the image of God isn’t only about who you are – it’s also a statement about what you’re for.”
So this is what you’re for – in everything you are and do, you exist to be a little picture of God.
And when you reflect him, you bring him glory – the reason for which God created everything.
Who is this God?
You might think God sounds like a lonely, self-centred artist who enjoys nothing more than painting himself. Who wants to be the image of an arrogant God?
But this isn’t who God is. God isn’t arrogant or self-centred in creating you to be like him.
He’s a loving, joyful, relational community of three persons – Father, Spirit and Son – who have been loving, enjoying and glorifying each other forever (John 17:24).
And so God’s calling on your life is to reflect this glory and this God. Creating us to be portraits of him isn’t an arrogant desire; it’s an invitation into this divine community, to enjoy what they've always enjoyed.
This is what the gospel is. We rejected the first invitation. In Jesus’ death and resurrection, God sends us that invitation again.
But this sounds very abstract. What does it actually mean to be invited into the community of God? What does it mean to be like him?
Let me share two ideas.
Be like him in his joy
Being like God means sharing in his delight – being like him in his joy. And he gives us a very earthly way to do that.
He’s given us lots of things which we can see, taste, touch and smell which are themselves, little pictures of how amazing it is to be in relationship with and enjoy this God.
Fruit, Oreos and honey allow us to taste the sweetness of God. The skies, stars and seas show us his power.
“Being like God means sharing in his delight – being like him in his joy.”
The green grass, pink sunset and Neptune’s blue reveal God’s beauty. Through our communities, marriages and friendships we share in the glory of his faithful, other-centred character.
He gives us eyes and ears, hearts and minds, not so we can avoid these good things but so we can enjoy a Big Mac or a country walk and say, ‘Wow! God, you’re that amazing!’
This is being the image of God – being like him in his joy. Enjoying God through his gifts is what you’re for.
But there’s more.
Be like him in his character
Being made in God’s image also means being like him in his character. Again, this is more practical than we might first think.
Think about it like this.
God demonstrated his character by creating the universe – he created the world and us out of the overflow of his good, humble, loving, other-centred character. So being like God in his character will always involve action.
Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. Genesis 1:28
Being the image of God means ruling and reigning over the world like God.
This isn’t about becoming a pastor or setting off for Africa to build an orphanage or some other ‘calling’ we judge to be ‘spiritual’. Our real calling – to be like God in his character – isn’t primarily about what we do but how we do whatever we do.
God’s will for my life
This radically changes our answer to what we’re for – or what ‘God’s will is for our lives.’ We don’t have to agonise about whether God wants me to be a midwife or a missionary.
“Our real calling – to be like God in his character – isn’t primarily about what we do but how we do whatever we do.”
Your calling is to become like him in whatever you choose to do – whether you’re a banker or a builder, a pastor or a painter. Your calling is to bank or build or pastor or paint in a way that displays the loving, humble, self-sacrificial, other-centred character of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
And as sinners – people who’ve rejected God's first invitation to be like him - the only way we can be restored to this purpose for which we exist is through Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:4).
As Christians, God’s promised to take all of our free choices in life and use them to remake us into his image – to be like him in his joy and in his character (Romans 8:28).
That means that God’s got the purpose of your life covered – and what he started, he will finish when we go to be with him (Philippians 1:6). He promises us this.
But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2
This is what you’re for: to be like God in his joy and his character.
In Christ, this is your future hope. But it’s also what today is all about. And every day until you see the Lord face to face.