Speaking also as a biblical scholar, I recognise that challenging the prevailing culture about the worth of human beings goes back to the very first pages of the Bible.
In its ancient context, the book of Genesis said some remarkable and challenging things about God, creation, and humanity. To those that said humanity was just an afterthought, made simply to serve the needs of the gods, the writer of Genesis declared a resounding, ‘No! We are made in the image of God!’ (see Gen. 1:26-27). Whatever else this ‘imaging’ means it affords us all with the most remarkable dignity and worth. (See Gordon McConville’s excellent recent book, Being Human in God’s World: An Old Testament Theology of Humanity to explore further).
Let’s place this public-truth-telling back into our own context. To the lie that says our human identity and worth are constructed by social media, advertising, and the pressure to look a certain way, the biblical message entrusted to God’s people says, ‘No! We are made in the image of God!’
In contemporary society this kind of bold statement is deeply subversive and cuts to the heart of what it means to be human. It is a message that is relevant and urgent not just for young people but for all of us. Where or to whom do we entrust our ultimate sense of identity? Our status, relationships, image and wealth? Or the living God, in whose image we are made?
Dr Tim Davy leads the Bible and Mission focus of Redcliffe College’s MA in Contemporary Missiology