So if God has chosen us not because of our strength but because of our weakness, why are we trying to hide our broken lives instead of being comfortable with who we really are?
Why are so many of us uncomfortable with who we are or where we are in life? Because we are not firmly convinced that we bear the image of the One who made us.
Genesis paints an amazing picture of our creation: "God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Gen. 1:27, NKJV).
In this incredible passage, God has just finished creating the world. He looks at it and is pleased. He says that it is good. From God, this is high praise indeed. And yet, it is not complete. He sees nothing that is truly a reflection of Himself.
As He turns to make man, He creates him in a way that does not reflect any other part of creation. God doesn't model man after the most glorious mountain. He doesn't model him after the vast seas of the earth. He doesn't turn His attention to His creation but to Himself.
He paints a self-portrait. He designs us to be a likeness of Himself. We became the pinnacle of all creation. We became image-bearers of the Most High God. And for a while, it worked out great.
You know the story. Adam and Eve were given the choice to continue being exact likenesses of God or to roll the dice and choose their own image. They gambled and lost, big time. They traded the glory of God for the glory of man--earning for themselves the sin nature that we, as their descendants, still carry today.
In that instant, we became something less than what we were meant to be. Like a mirror that no longer reflects anything, we became altogether worthless. Our self-image, which was designed to grow from the image of God in us, withered in the tragic soil of the fall.
It's no wonder so many of us struggle to know who we really are. Even though we know in our heads Christ died and rose again for us, our self-image is rooted in the fall and not the resurrection. We have accepted an image of loss instead of redemption. We will not recover our identity until we understand the true power of grace. So, what exactly is grace?
Grace is God's desire to be in relationship with you regardless of your circumstances. That includes everything you have done or had done to you in the past, present and future. God's love is not based upon how you relate to Him through mere obedience. God's love for you is based upon His inexhaustible desire to be close to you. His grace offers several benefits.
Grace allows the believer to live free. I can remember living apart from Christ, and it was anything but free. I was constantly plagued by a sense that I had to create a good life. "You only go around once," was my motto. It was up to me to make it a good trip.
I no longer believe it's up to me to make my own success or happiness. My responsibility is to respond to what God puts in front of me, and through my response, His Spirit will continue to unveil the person God has created me to be. As Paul says, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18). It's His job, not mine. I no longer have to perform for God or myself.
Grace allows us to move beyond the past. After counseling people for more than a decade, I can say with conviction that everyone I've ever met has a history he or she is running from. The good news of God's grace is that the past can remain where it is--in the past! We deny the power of the resurrection when we allow the past to decide who we are.
The idea conveyed in Scripture is that we are new creations. The old life has died and lives only to the degree that we give it life. The Bible says, "A new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining" (1 John 2:8).
Before grace, all we knew was darkness. Now it is our choice to let it pass and embrace the true light that is already shining in us.
Grace allows us to help redeem the world. We live in a time in which it is not enough to share the message of the gospel. We must share ourselves along with the words. In order for the world to be transformed it needs our stories of brokenness.
It was not a coincidence that Jesus came into this world as a helpless baby. It was no coincidence that He lived as a servant. If He wanted, Jesus could have lived like a king. But He knew that was not our experience. He knew that we were hurting and that we were confused and in need of someone who could identify with us. Jesus didn't come into this world to save us from brokenness but from the illusion of wholeness.