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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.

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I think I’ve earned my stripes as a cynical Christian. I’m the first to criticize hypocrisy, apathy, and pretense in the church. I cringe at churchy language and religious manipulation. Yet I remain a firm believer that God loves all people equally and that Jesus is the best redeemer of cultures and religions—Christianity included. When Jesus is present in the church, something beautiful happens.

I spent my first week in southern Ghana where every business, every preacher, every crooked cop seems to tout some exaggerated form of Christianity. The culture is so anemically religious you could call it, “Ghana’s bible belt.” I hated it.

But in northern Ghana, where we’ve been spending the last week, the church is leaner and stronger. In a Muslim and Traditionalist context, Christians believe that the gospel is always pushing outward. They believe that the most natural environment for Christian faith isn’t in the Christian capitals of the world, but in the animistic villages and nomadic tribes. They spend less time building church empires and more time sharing the “good news”. And in a real sense that “good news” isn’t JUST a hope in heaven. It’s clean water. It’s education. It’s love-based development.

I know that sometimes, development can be used as a switcheroo for proselytizing, and these Ghanaians DO preach Christianity. But I sense that most of them actually believe that God loves all people—Christians, Muslims, and traditionalists—the same. So they work tirelessly in the villages, though it’s often a thankless job. And just being around them preaches to me.

After meeting with our Fulani friends the other day, we went to a village where a small hole in the ground serves as their water supply.
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Some years it sees them through the springtime droughts. Usually, they spend a couple months struggling to find water. A small brick reservoir built to catch the rain falling off the tin roof would see them through the dry season with clean, accessible water. It wouldn’t be expensive… a couple grand maybe. In 3 other villages, we noticed that the arrival of water projects ALSO brought small village schools—sometimes just a chalkboard under a mango tree… Suddenly I’m thinking… I could buy a new macbook. Or I could kick start a future for 40 kids.

I’m looking into the faces of these beautiful children and I’m seeing my own children—Annabel and Levi—and it ruins me. I’m thinking, “We had no right to be born in America. It was just dumb luck. These people aren’t CNN headlines, poverty statistics, or global problems. These are people. They are part of me and I’m part of them. How can I not care for them?”

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The exciting thing is, the church is loving them. For all of its issues, the church… Christians are responding in love. All over Northern Ghana, we saw the church (not government) at the forefront of development. Sometimes, projects are funded by NGO’s, but it’s Ghanaian Christians providing the manpower. It’s not benefitting them or their churches. They’re doing it just because.

In church-saturated cultures, I often feel embarrassed and alarmed by the church. But in northern Ghana, I feel proud to be a Christian, because the church is presently the most effective change agent in that region. And where the gospel is pushing out to the margins, good things are happening. We were told that the general perception among traditional villages is that Christianity brings development and that’s true for a number of reasons. One is a greater connectedness to the outside world, the Christian community, and to NGO’s. Another is that Christians spend less on alcohol and witch doctors. A sense of generosity, community, and universal human brotherhood is developed. (For instance the new Christians in one village report that their faith challenges them to live at peace with their Muslim neighbors and share resources with them.) Christianity shows up as a liberating force for women. And Christians are choosing healthier lifestyles overall.

So even the flagrant proselytizing doesn’t bother me (I say this not as an evangelist, but as a Christian cynic). In fact, it excites me, because I know that 1.) It comes from a loving heart and is not manipulative, underhanded, or neo-colonial. And 2.) Conversion has brought more hope and authentic transformation than I’ve ever seen in a community. It hasn’t culturally disenfranchised them. It’s culturally invigorated, redeemed, and united them. In one village, a group of children broke out in spontaneous song and dance with big grins on their faces. Our Ghanaian friend leaned over and said, “This song is popular in the villages. It means, ‘when I die, don’t ask the soothsayer what killed me because Jesus took me away.'”

In another village, an elder told us, “everybody in the world longs for progress. We see this as progress.” THAT’S something I can get behind.

Are you stuck in a rut?  Having trouble dealing with that one person at work that knows just the right button to push, and does it just for sport?  Do you have trouble letting go of the small things that happen throughout your day, so they pile up and stress you out?

I think we have all been in one or all of these situations.  How we handle ourselves and deal with these issues show those around us a lot about who we are.  We all have a bad day; but is every day a bad day?

I worked in the medical field for about 20 years.  People are at their worst when they are sick, and some days you question why you do what you do because it just doesn’t seem to be worth it.  For the past six months I have been working at a school for middle and high school children with learning disabilities.  This has a whole different set of challenges to face on a daily basis.

Many years ago, when I first truly began my walk with God, I came across a Bible verse that has helped me through many difficult days.

Colossians 3 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.                                   Colossians 3:23

In situations when I had a difficult patient or family member, co-worker or supervisor, I would remember this verse.  God gave me the gifts and abilities to remain calm under pressure, to be compassionate and understanding, to be patient and kind.  It is my responsibility to use those gifts to glorify him.  He is always there for me to draw strength from and sometimes the best way to draw that strength is through his word.

So, the next time that co-worker trods across that sensitive spot, remember that God made you who you are and it doesn’t matter what that co-worker thinks.  As long as you are doing your job to the absolute best of your ability and doing it as though you are doing it for God, that is what is important.

Sometimes the solution to the problem is just an adjustment in our perspective.  Whether it is your job, coaching your son’s little league team, being the troop leader for your daughter’s Girl Scout troop, do it as if you are working for the Lord and not for man.  I sure felt more fulfilled and my job was more rewarding when I adjusted my perspective.

All you have to do to change your perspective is decide who you are working for, God or man.