Recently, I came across a very amusing picture. It was a photograph of a truck driver trying to inflate one of the trucks' huge tyres with a bike pump. Another image like this was of a chef attempting to cut carrots with a hand saw. These images reminded me how ineffective it is to try to complete a task with a tool that is not designed for that task. It’s like trying to eat soup with a fork; it’s not effective and ultimately it becomes a pretty frustrating experience.
If we want to be effective in the things we do it's important that we use tools that are designed for the task. Similarly, if we want to be effective, satisfied and purposeful in our lives it is really important that we live our lives according to the way we were designed. And so at the College we have begun a dialogue with students, starting with the question "do you know what you were designed for?" Our intention is to grow young people who know what they were designed for and that they are equipped to live their lives in accordance with their design so they experience meaning and purpose in all that they do.
Over the holidays we bought a new dishwasher. Of course, the temptation for me was to rush on in and just start using it. My husband, however, had a much better approach. He made sure he read the instructions from start to finish and this meant that when we started using the dishwasher we used it according to its design. Our goal as educators is to ensure that young people understand what they were made for and to equip them to live within that design.
If we go back to our original design, that is the creation of Adam and Eve, we get a good glimpse of what we were designed to do. The Bible tells us in Genesis that humans were made in the image of God. The animals weren't given this honour, nor were the plants. It is only humans who have the honour of being made in God's image. When I contemplate the fact that I am made in God's image there are two questions that come to mind; what and why.
Firstly, what does it mean to be made in the image of God? Our first thought might be that this means that we look like God but this is not what is means to be made in the image of God. What is does mean is that we are rational beings like God, we have the capacity to think, create and design like God, we are eternal beings just like God and, we are relational like God.
The second question I often ask is why did God choose to make me in His image? I have a dog named Lucy. One of the things she is amazingly good at doing is sniffing out dogs that are within a 500m radius of our house. She will then run from the back of the house to the front door and bark incessantly just to make sure that they feel welcome to her part of the neighbourhood. She does this because she longs to be with other dogs. She wants to be with creatures that are just like her.
I think this goes some of the way to explaining why God made humans in His image. He wanted a part of creation that was for Himself and that He could have a relationship with. It's pretty phenomenal to contemplate that we were designed so that we could have a relationship with God. CS Lewis sums it up well when he wrote "God doesn't want something from us, He simply wants us". For our students who live in a complex and uncertain world knowing that they are made by God because He wants to know and love them is life transforming.
There are lots of elements to our design, but this relational element is the most significant. In making human beings it was God's desire to be able to have a relationship with us. But it is also pretty amazing to contemplate that we were made to be in relationship with others. The Bible tells us God's thoughts after He made Adam; The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” And so God made Eve. Incorporated into God's design of humans is the need to be in relationship with others.
We are designed to love God and love others. We were made for loving God and loving others. You and I were purposed to live in right relationship with God and in right relationship with each other. But just like the truck driver trying to inflate the truck tyre with a bike pump met with an unsatisfactory outcome, when we live outside of our design it also leads to some pretty unsatisfactory outcomes. Therefore, if we are to live a purposeful and meaningful life, one that gives us satisfaction, we must choose to live according to what we were made for, that is loving God and loving others.
Our College verse sums it up perfectly. Jesus was asked what must I do to live a life that pleases God and Jesus replies; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbour as yourself." In keeping with this verse when our students ask "what was I made for?" we will say "you were made for loving God and loving others".