1 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour.
6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
One of the great quests of human beings is the strive for significance.
At one point or another we all ask questions like, “Who am I really? What is the purpose of my existence? Do I really matter?” In March 1980 Time Magazine’s cover article was a feature on the comedian Peter Sellers. On the cover they asked the question, “Who is this man?”
It takes an acquired taste to appreciate the Goon Show and the many other roles that Sellers played in his showbiz career, but most people would agree that along with Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers was a comic genius, but like so many gifted artistic people, both Sellers and Milligan were what we’d call tormented geniuses.
Peter Sellers was once a guest on the Muppet Show where he was interviewed by Kermit the Frog. The interview began with Kermit saying to Sellers, “Now, just relax and be yourself.” He replied, “I can’t be myself because I don’t know who I am. The real me doesn’t exist.”
On the surface he was trying to be funny, because that’s what comedians do. But on reflection his words were anything but funny. In fact, they were rather sad. One of his longtime friends, commenting on those words, said, “Poor Peter! The real Peter disappeared a long time ago. What he is now is simply an amalgamation of all the stage and screen characters he has ever played, and now he is frantically trying to unsnarl that mess and find out who he really is.”
No-one knows if Peter Sellers was ever able to unsnarl the mess or not, because less than six months later he was dead. But whether or not he did, he wasn’t alone in his feelings.
So many people go through life wondering who they are, what they’re supposed to be doing and where they’re going.
In Psalm 8:4 David asks, “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” This is just after he had written in the previous verse, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place.”
As David looked up at the vastness of God’s universe, he felt his own smallness, but yet he also knew that he mattered to God.
It’s important though to find an answer to David’s question, “Who are we that God is so concerned about us?” What are we, and where are we going?
The world gives us all kinds of answers. Some scientists tell us that we’re just accidents of nature, no more important than the cockroach that runs across the kitchen floor. The Christian apologist Frank Turek says that evolutionists regard human beings as nothing more than wet robots.
Really? Is that all we are - nothing more than moist machines with no direction in our lives and no purpose to our existence?
The Bible gives us this answer: “You are a special. You are a unique person created in the image of God.”
In Genesis 2, God reaches down and takes the dust of the ground. He forms it into a human body, and breathes into its nostrils the breath of life. He gives life to Adam and then He also created Eve.
Our first parents then lived in this paradise which God had created. There was no doubt in their minds that they had a purpose - to live in fellowship with the God who created them. They lived for a while enjoying the purpose for which they were created, to have fellowship with God, and to honour Him with their lives.
The Latin for image of God is Imago Dei. Adam and Even were given the capacity to think and be creative. One of the great privileges we have as the pinnacle of God’s creation is the call to reflect the very nature and character of God.
We need to recognise this important point. We were created by God, for God and we’re important to Him, so we must not think too lowly of ourselves.
In Psalm 8 David understands this truth when he says, “You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour.”
So we must not think too lowly of ourselves, but the opposite also applies. Romans 12:3 says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Yes, we’re created in the image of God, but that image has become marred by our sin.
Just like Adam and Eve, we need to recognise our spiritual nakedness before this Holy, Almighty God.
We were created to walk with God. We were created to talk with Him. We were created to have fellowship with Him. But now we can’t because there is a great chasm between us. And that chasm is created by sin.
This is why it is good to remember that we should not think too highly of ourselves.
This is essentially what happened when sin entered the world. The great attraction was the false promise given by satan in Genesis 3:4-5. “You will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
It is this lie which is at the heart of the sin problem. “I am not just created in the image of God. I am God. I will control my own life and my own destiny.”
On the opposite side of the coin, we can become so focused on our sins that we are totally defeated and walk around feeling that we’re worth nothing at all.
Somewhere in between these two opposite extremes is the truth, and that truth is to be found in Jesus Christ.
When we have a proper understanding of how far we have fallen from the standards God requires, but at the same time we recognise our hope in Christ, we will understand just what God has done for us, and how far He has gone in order to reconcile us to Himself. This is at the very core of the Gospel.
Now, in the quest for significance and purpose, because of what Jesus has done. We are able to say, “I am created in the image of God. That image in marred by my sin, but because of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, He has brought me back into the Kingdom of the God who created me.”
It is in Jesus that we find this balance. It is in Him and Him alone where it all comes together once more.
Jesus makes us able once again to reflect God’s image - in other words, to be the kind of people God intended us to be from the beginning.
Here we are, walking around wondering who we are, trying to fill the empty places in our lives, searching and making foolish mistakes, trying to cram something into the empty parts of our lives.
But the Bible teaches us that we are created in God’s image and, yes, the image has been marred. But we can once again reflect the glory, the image of God. Through Christ we can be made full and complete.
In fact, Paul says exactly that in Colossians 2:10, “in Christ you have been brought to fullness.”
The ESV says, “you have been filled in Him,” while the NKJV says, “you are complete in Him.” That’s the answer: Christ.
Peter Sellers’ comment was so sad and so poignant, because his words sum up the human condition without God so accurately: “I don’t know who I am. The real me doesn’t exist.”
Who am I? Who are you? There really is no mystery to these seemingly deep questions. God has always had the answer for us. Even when our sin drove us from Hs presence, the purpose of our existence did not change. It is Jesus Christ who now makes all the difference. He has made it possible for us to be reconciled with the God who loves us with an immeasurable love. It is in Christ alone that we are new creations. The old has gone, and the new has come. That is the wonderful message of hope we have to share with the world.
You see, the only thing that really counts is whether or not Jesus Christ is your Lord and Saviour. At the end of this life, when you draw your final breath, that will be the only thing that matters.
Next Sunday the 31st is Pentecost Sunday, so this coming Wednesday we will conclude this brief series on the psalms, and what better psalm to end on than Psalm 23, and the promise that Jesus Christ, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, is the one who walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death?
It is He, and He alone who will bring us to our home in the heights.