A little over a decade ago, Robert Smith, a surgeon at Falkirk and District Royal
Infirmary in Scotland, began to amputate the legs of patients at their request. As Carl
Elliot reported in the Atlantic Monthly:
“These patients were not physically sick. Their legs did not need to be amputated for any medical reason. Nor were they incompetent, according to the psychiatrists who examined them. They simply wanted to have their legs cut off. In fact, these new amputees declared in public interviews how much happier they are, now that they have finally had their legs removed…” (1)
People seeking voluntary amputations of healthy limbs (sometimes performing amputations on themselves) use the language of identity and selfhood: “I have always felt I should be an amputee.” “I felt, this is who I was.” “It is a desire to see myself, be myself, as I ‘know’or ‘feel’ myself to be,” they say.
The idea of being stuck in the wrong body is increasingly common in American culture: a man who says he is “not himself” unless he is on Prozac; a woman who seeks surgery to enhance or reduce her figure; a bodybuilder who says he takes anabolic steroids because he wants to look on the outside the way he feels on the inside; and—perhaps most common—transsexuals whose experience is described as “being trapped in the wrong body.”
How do you know who the real “you” is?
If God did not make you, then you get to decide. But God did make each of us and gave us the gift of a definite identity. God has made us in His image.
Pastor and philosopher Francis Schaeffer once wrote: “For 20th-century man this phrase, the image of God is as important as anything in scripture, because men today can no longer answer that crucial question, ‘who am I?’ As he looks out upon the world, as he faces the machine, he cannot tell himself from what he faces. He cannot distinguish himself from other things.”
Who are you? You are a created image of God, which also means that you are God’s masterpiece. The fact that you are created by God establishes the Creator’s authority over you. It may be the first insanity of our sinfulness that we try to deny that we are created. God says through Isaiah that we turn the truth of creation up-side-down.
You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is
formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? (Isaiah 29:16)
And then argue with God about it.
“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker,
those who are nothing but potsherds
among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter,
‘What are you making?’
Does your work say,
‘The potter has no hands’?
10 Woe to the one who says to a father,
‘What have you begotten?’
or to a mother,
‘What have you brought to birth?’
11 “This is what the LORD says—
the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:
Concerning things to come,
do you question me about my children,
or give me orders about the work of my hands?
12 It is I who made the earth
and created mankind on it.
My own hands stretched out the heavens;
I marshaled their starry hosts.” (Isaiah 45:8-10)
The occasion for so much “woe,” so much sadness, comes from rejecting that God has made us in His image.
God also has the authority to continue fashioning and shaping you all your life.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this
potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. (Jeremiah 18:5-6).
He calls for a clay-ful response to Him.
Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of
your hand. (Isaiah 64: 8 also, see Psalm 139:13-14, 23-24)
The fact that you are created by God also establishes a distinct design and purpose in you. In Genesis 1, creation is marked by distinction and definition. First comes form followed by a function fitted to that form. God announced this correlation as “Good!” for, that which is good is that which does what it was made to do! So, the form, light, on day 1 of creation fulfills the purpose of seasons on day 4 of creation. In the same way, when it comes to the creation of Man: male and female, the form, male, fits the functions of masculinity and the form, female, fits the functions of femininity. Everything has its own nature designed to fit its own purpose.
So, you don’t have to wonder what it means to be human, to be a person. You are made in God’s image to live out God’s created purpose for you. You can answer the question: “Who am I?” You are God’s masterpiece, created in His image.
Say “yes” to your created nature and purpose.
Give thanks for your created nature and purpose.
Live out your created nature and purpose.