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The Uniqueness Of Each Person

I’m always amazed when I think of how God created a world that’s filled with incredible diversity and variety. There are different kinds of colors, tastes, sounds, foods, scenery, animals, ideas, types of leisure… (and the list just goes on and on). But one area that is especially intriguing to me is the variety of people He has created. In fact, everyone is different. There are no two of us alike. We are each special.

In spite of our great diversity, the Bible says that we were all created in the image of God. Therefore, we all have some things in common, things that make up our ‘humanness.’ We’ve already noted that all humans have the capacity to think, reason, make decisions, worship, communicate, create, appreciate beauty, etc. We also have similar limitations and needs. We all need food, shelter and clothing. We also need to be loved and to love others. We are also constrained by our physical capacity and strength, knowledge, mortality, and senses, to mention just a few of our limitations.

But do these similarities make us all identical? Not in the least! Though we have certain traits and characteristics that we share, we’re also very different from one another. Everyone of us is unique, a one-of-a-kind, special, limited edition! This uniqueness doesn’t happen by accident. It’s also part of God’s grand design and plan. Even our striving to affirm our own identity isn’t accidental. When a child pulls away from his parents to assert his own unique personhood, he’s really just trying to discover more fully who he really is. This is healthy and normal behavior, part of God’s plan for self-awareness.

God’s Involvement

God forms each one of us lovingly and intentionally. We’re not just an “accident-of-nature” (as many atheists and evolutionists would have us believe). There’s purpose, planning, and design that led up to our existence. Our parents were certainly involved (obviously), but so was God. Whether our parents rejoiced when they received the news of our pending arrival, or regretted their decision to procreate and conceive, we are here nonetheless, because God wanted us here!

David talks about the unique role that God plays in bringing us into existence in Psalm 139:13-15.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

David has become a voice for each of us, expressing gratitude to God for His creative involvement in making us. God was intentionally involved in making us who we are, both inwardly (“inmost being”) and outwardly (“my frame”). The inner man has to do with our personalities, our mind, will, and emotions, our likes and dislikes, our strengths and weaknesses. The outer man is our physical bodies, our appearance, physical strength, natural coordination, etc.

To show God’s personal involvement in making us, the Bible uses words and phrases that capture the notion of nurture and creativity: “knit together,” “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and “woven together.” The psalmist also indicates that God created us with a purpose and destiny in mind, even determining the number of days we would live. Though this passage doesn’t tell us exactly what that purpose is, elsewhere the Bible makes it clear that we exist to bring glory to God (Ephesians 1:11-12), and to live in a personal and eternal relationship with Him (John 3:16).

Unfortunately, in spite of God’s affirmation to the contrary, there are many people who have become convinced that their life is unimportant or useless. Some even consider themselves a burden to society, thinking it would have been better if they had never been born. Nothing could be further from the truth! God has created each of us in a way that is unique and special. Each of us is designed to bring Him glory in a way that no one else can. He wants to accomplish His good works in each of us and through each of us.

Individual Uniqueness

Some social theorists affirm that children are born as a ‘blank slate’ and our surroundings alone are responsible for determining who we become. In other words our environment determines who we are. According to Scripture that is not totally true. God makes each person unique in many special ways. While the environment has an ongoing and significant impact on our lives, God has already written on our ‘slate’ when He created us (Psalm 139:13). He has given us each a unique personality as well as natural strengths and weaknesses. He has given us unique abilities as well, such as hand-eye coordination, ability to play an instrument, artistic ability, intelligence, etc.

Everyone of us is unique, a one-of-a- kind, special, limited edition!!

When we become a Christian, God’s creative work in our lives begins again in a different way. When we trust Christ, God gives each of us spiritual gifts through the person of His Holy Spirit. These abilities enable us to have a unique ministry to believers and unbelievers (I Corinthians 12:7). In fact, most of us have a combination of several gifts. These gifts become evident as we go about helping others in effective and enjoyable service. God also calls us to specific ministries where we are able to employ our special gifts in ways distinct from others. For example,Paul was called to have a ministry to the Gentiles while Peter was called to have a ministry to the Jews
(Galatians 2:8). Sometimes He will even change our ministries as we mature.

God continues to bring about change in us throughout life. He employs agents that work internally (the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures) and agents that work externally (angels, circumstances) to conform us to the image of Christ. There are other forces that God uses to shape us, but one of the most profound is the influence of our family. This environment creates a climate for both good and bad in our lives. It takes wisdom and maturity to process this influence in a healthy way. Fortunately, God assures us that He can even use the bad to bring good into our lives (Romans 8:28). He uses all of our experiences, even the unique culture and era that we live in, to bring us to Christ and to mature us (Acts 17:26-28).

Conclusion

God has made each of us special and unique. He’s created us in amazing ways and made it possible for us to contribute to what He’s doing in this world. Every person who comes to Christ brings something that no one else is able to offer. Rather than making us arrogant, this knowledge should cause us to remain humble as we celebrate our special place and affirm God’s sovereign plan for us.

Application:

• Write down the strengths God has given to you, and thank Him for them.
• What are some of the experiences that have shaped your life? Thank God for them
and what He has done in your life through them.

Get this Pocket Principle in Understanding People, part of Cornerstone  from the WDA Store

For more information visit the WDA Store.

confusedHave you ever felt confused and frustrated by the behavior of another person? Or been confused by your own behavior? “Why did I say that?” “Why did I do that?” Understanding people—both ourselves and others—is important to our own personal growth and to our ability to impact the lives of others.

This series of Pocket Principles is designed to help us begin the process of understanding people.

We begin with several benefits that understanding people can bring us.

First, understanding people helps us to understand what motivates their behavior. When God created man, He created him incomplete, and this incompleteness drives a person to try to get his needs met. For example, one of the greatest needs all of us have is for value and worth. We see this need revealed in the ways people seek acceptance, recognition, and approval. From the child’s attention seeking to an adult’s basic insecurity, this need is evident. Driven by this need, a child will often act out to get negative attention, which is preferable to being ignored. An adult will make all kinds of sacrifices to win some positive feedback and may even demand it from others. Even if we deny our needs, we still are driven by them, and our words and actions betray us.

Second, we need to understand people so we can be sensitive to them. The more we understand people, their struggles and needs, the more we can come along side them in helpful, significant ways, communicate their “specialness” and show them their need for God and spiritual growth.

A third reason to understand people is to correct inadequate views of man. There are many wrong views of man both outside of Christianity and within. Our understanding of people must be derived from the Bible. What does God say about man? Since God created us, He knows even more about us than we do about ourselves. In the Pocket Principles that follow we will explore how God has created us, the effect of the Fall of man and the restorative ministry of Christ.

What do you think? Does a persons understanding of themselves matter? How would knowing how to understand people change the way you treat your spouse, family, customers, business partners?

Feel free to comment below!

 

Here are the topics coming up each week

Created in the Image of God, part 1, part 2

The Fallenness of Man, part 1, part 2

Restoration through Christ

Created with Needs

Getting Needs Met

Created with Emotions

Understanding Emotional Problems

Healing from Emotional Problems

 

Get this Pocket Principle in Understanding People, part of Cornerstone  from the WDA Store

For more information visit the WDA Store.

universe“What is man that you are mindful of him (Psalm 8:4)?” This is the question that King David, the Psalmist, asks of God. Who is man in light of the magnitude of everything else in the universe? Man is only a speck. It is incredible that God pays attention to him at all. And yet God says of man, and man alone, that he is created in His image (Genesis 1:26,27). God has crowned him with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5) as His highest and greatest creation. As the centerpiece of creation man has been given dominion and authority over all creation (Psalm 8:6-8). How amazing!

Christianity holds a high view of man. In fact, it holds a much higher view of man than any of the other religious and philosophical perspectives that are prevalent today. Because healthy living proceeds from right thinking, it is important that we maintain a truthful view of ourselves in order to be able to live healthy Christian lives. God has placed man in a high position, and we must resist views that diminish man’s significance.

If we hold a view of man that is less than what God has said is true, problems will arise. For example, if we believe that man, in his essence, is a sinner and nothing else, it can lead to low self-esteem. How can a sinner do anything good? Rather, we should believe that though all men have a sin nature, they also have innate dignity flowing from being created in God’s image. This leads to a more correct, balanced view of man. Man is both good and bad. Man is in need of a savior because of his sin and capable of doing incredible good because he is created in God’s image.

In this Pocket Principle we will be able to see the importance of holding to a high view of man as we contrast the Biblical view of man with some of the other views popular in our society today: the humanistic, supremacist and New Age views.

 

The Humanistic Views

Humanistic or secular views of man vary considerably but have some common themes. Their goal is to explain man’s existence and significance apart from any concept of God or creation. They do not see man as created but as having evolved from lower forms of life. Therefore, they do not see man as related to God in any way and certainly not as reflecting His image.

A humanist’s view of man is that he is basically good. This view does not say that man is incapable of doing bad things, but it sees man’s badness as caused by ignorance, not by a sin nature. They downplay man’s problem with sin and exalt his rational ability. This leads to the belief that if we can educate people sufficiently, we can remove all the badness and evil from our culture, and explains the high value that our culture and our government place on gaining and improving education. This view is in error and fails to see man as he really is. Man has a problem with sin that is out of control and is in need of internal transformation, not just education. Education, although useful, will not solve the problem man has with sin.

Christianity has some important messages for those who hold the humanistic view of man. This view of man is both too low in some respects and too high in others. It is too low in that it does not recognize that man is created in God’s image. To be created in the image of God, to be an image-bearer of God, is to be much more than a highly evolved animal. It is to be uniquely different from and superior to all animals. Thus, Christianity holds a much higher view of man than humanism does.

On the other hand, Christianity in one sense has a lower view of man than the humanist does. Christianity sees man as having a serious problem with sin and not as simply being ignorant. Change for the better can only come through the power of the Holy Spirit changing us on the inside. The necessary transformation will not take place through education, evolution, politics or any other human means.

 

The Supremacist View

The supremacist view considers a particular group of people as either superior to or inferior to all others. There are many people who think this way about others. The whole concept of racial profiling is based on the concept that certain types of people are more likely to be guilty of something or have something wrong with them than another group or the rest of mankind.

There have been many examples of the supremacist view through the centuries. The Aryan race was believed to be superior to all others under Hitler. As a result, the Nazis felt they had the right to eliminate whole groups of people that they considered inferior. We have a name for the horror that surrounded their ascent to power and the implementation of their philosophy. It is called “the Holocaust.”

Here in America we have been guilty of incredible cruelty in the name of slavery. At times, even the church tried to justify owning slaves. Black people from Africa, bought and sold as slaves, were not considered to be equal to white people from Europe. They were thought of as less than real people in some way and were treated as property. They were at their owner’s disposal or pleasure.

The whole issue of prejudice is tied to this view. Every culture tends to have problems with prejudice in one way or another. It is often racially based, but it can also be religiously, economically, socially or politically-based. India has its caste system. Islam’ s view of the West and all other religions falls into this category. The attitude of some who are rich and famous may reflect this dangerous form of pride.

Around the world women have suffered. Often they have been treated as second-class citizens and have been denied the right to get an education or to pursue a career. The laws of some countries give men many more rights than women. Christianity has done much to correct these views and to improve the lot of women throughout the world, but at times, it has also been guilty of denying women an equal status with men. In a similar way, those who are single or divorced have sometimes been viewed as having some kind of curse.

Abortion and euthanasia are tremendous problems, particularly in western civilization. Millions of babies are killed every year under the banner of “women’s rights.” What about the rights of the unborn child? Unwanted babies that do make it into this world alive are commonly allowed to die by being denied food and water. Another problem is that of the elderly, the disabled and the poor, all of whom can become a drain on our time and resources. Should we just eliminate them from our society? The very fact that we even consider these options shows the low value placed on human life.

The Christian also has important messages for supremacists. Because God has created all people in His image, everyone, from the moment of conception, has value and worth independent of anything else. God is the One who places value on every life, and everyone’s value is equal in His eyes. He has leveled the playing field and given everyone equal status on it.

Since all people are created in God’s image, and are capable to some degree of contributing in positive ways to this world, all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Because of the inherent worth and value God has placed on each life, He alone has the right to take a person’s life. (The only other person who has the authority to take a person’s life is a person God has placed in authority in government. The government is God’s agent of wrath (Romans 13:1-4).)

 

The New Age View

The New Age Movement is not a cohesive movement. It spreads a wide umbrella that many different groups can fit under: eastern mysticism, western occultism and the human potential movement. Each of these groups adheres to parts of New Age philosophy. Though the movement as a whole is not well coordinated, there are some general statements about their view of man that can be made.

The New Age view that everything that exists is God is called Pantheism. In this view, since man is part of all that exists, he is also God. There are other unusual beliefs associated with the New Age movement but for our purposes we will limit our discussion to how they see man in relation to God.

Scripture says that man is created “like “ God (bears God’s image), but is not God. Take the example of a child born of human parents. He is like his parents in many ways. He may have similar physical features to his parents. He certainly carries similar DNA, enough so that it is possible to know who his parents are. He may even act like them and believe things similar to them, but he is not his parent. The mother, the father and the child are not the same. They are unique and separate individuals.

Likewise, though we bear God’s image, we are not God. And neither is anything else that is created. The New Age movement suggests that what Christians believe is an illusion based on ignorance. Christians would answer that their beliefs are supported by the reality that we see and experience around us.

The Biblical view of man positively impacts how we think about and treat others and ourselves. We should treat everyone with dignity and respect because we all bear God’s image, and yet, we also need to see that all men are lost because of their sin and rebellion and desperately need the salvation that God offers through Jesus Christ.

 

Application Suggestions:

• Meditate on Psalm 139:13-16

• Think about the ways that a high view of man affect the way you think about and relate to nonbelievers.

Get this Pocket Principle in Understanding People, part of Cornerstone  from the WDA Store

For more information visit the WDA Store.