Written by Craig Denison
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how I am uniquely formed to love others. For some reason when thinking about my personality, gifting and desires I tend to look for what I don’t have rather than seeking to maximize what I do have. I look at extroverted people who are hyper-gifted at evangelism and think about how far I have to go to be able to be like them. Then I read this quote from Thomas Merton that caused me to change my perspective. He writes:
“To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.” New Seeds of Contemplation
At first this concept offended me. It seemed prideful and untrue of me to say that “Love is my true identity...Selflessness is my true self” when I know the countless things I do a day that are self-seeking. But as I was quickly moving past this concept I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to stop and listen for a moment.
I felt him telling me that what I do is not who I am. I am more than my failures. I am more than my short comings. I am more than introverted and prone to life alone. I am made in his image. And as a child of God made in the image of my Father I need to allow him to call me to more— to draw me into the destiny I was created for.
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
"Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8
To be made in the image of God is to love as he loves. He’s placed within my heart the capacity to love others well. He’s wired me in such a way that I can uniquely and specifically love others. Merton echoes the heart of God in saying, "Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another” (Love and Living).
If I will allow the Holy Spirit to draw my thoughts away from my short comings and onto where he is leading me—he will anoint me for the good works he’s laid before me. If I will embrace who I am rather than condemn myself, he will reveal the reason for my personality—the uniqueness of who I am.
Beloved there is no time to condemn ourselves. There is no time to let our short comings define us. God is too good and the need is too great to sit idle and reserve ourselves for some day in the distant future when we feel usable. God has plans for you today—right now. He’s formed you and prepared you for something great this very moment.
May we grab hold of our identity and love as our heavenly Father loves. May we see a great movement of Christians being used by the Holy Spirit to reflect the very heart of God. And may our world change for the better today as a result of Christians living our their destiny moment by moment. You were made for impact, and the time is now.
I'll let you chew on one more Merton quote as you go about your day. May it shape the way you love others.
“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” No Man is an Island