Identity: What does it mean to be human?
[See Part 1]
Humans are created to be free; freedom is at the core of our identity. However, as outrageous a claim as it might seem, we do not and cannot orchestrate our own freedom. Freedom is a question that leads us in the first place to God – at least that’s the contention of Genesis 1.
In this first chapter of Scripture, our attention is drawn firmly and finally to God, for we are being reminded that the key to our true identity lies outside of ourselves.
- God is mentioned 35 times (between verses 1:1 and 2:4a);
- he is creating, blessing and celebrating the new creation;
- he is pictured as triumphing over chaos (an ancient tribute of the highest order)
In short, God has the stage.
The counter-cultural emphasis of this text lies in the way it challenges our own self-sufficiency. God must be our first focus. Once we align our attention to him, we have a proper starting point for understanding who we are.
One might be temped to think this degrades our right to be free and to fight for the worthy cause of freedom; but that would be to miss the key point. By focusing firstly on God, Genesis 1 places a higher emphasis on freedom than we can hold on our own. It was God in the first place who freely created us. It’s that first move that dares us to freely respond.
So, what does it mean to be human? Our true identity lies in the reality that we are created for freedom, by God. We don’t have the resources to create freedom for ourselves! Instead, we discover who we are when we look to God. Genesis 1 call us to aim at the horizon, readjust our looking glass, and set out on a voyage in the direction of the author of Freedom.