Many people today are interested in learning more about their ancestry. In fact, a study by MIT Technology Review reported that by the start of 2019 over 26 million people had taken DNA tests from one of four major consumer genetic companies. Results from these tests can show people their probable ancestry and provide information about their expected health and fitness. As I’ve noticed this trend, I’ve asked myself: What really makes up our identity?
I’ve found that a helpful starting point can be to consider this question from the biblical prophet Malachi: “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10). Our unity with one another is based on the fact that the real identity of each of us is God’s child. This understanding provides us with an expanded sense of family and shows how we can relate to each other harmoniously. And it connects us through a sense of unity with all humanity.
Christ Jesus affirmed his oneness with his Father, God (see John 10:30). He saw no separation between himself and God, or between anyone else and God. Jesus healed a variety of diseases, many of which were believed to be inherited, permanent, or deadly. The Bible doesn’t record that he was ever influenced by someone’s history or looked for the cause of a disease. He saw man, woman, and child as having the same divine parentage and therefore as being spiritual and reflecting God’s, Spirit’s, perfection.
In the first chapter of Genesis, it’s written, “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (verse 26). Interestingly, the Hebrew word translated “image” is “selem,” which is a masculine noun. And the Hebrew word for “likeness” is “de mût,” which is a feminine noun. To me this symbolizes our spiritual, complete nature as including both masculine and feminine substance and qualities. So tenderness, compassion, strength, and fearlessness are all included in each person’s identity. And this inclusive, spiritual view can help us see that we don’t need to be pigeonholed under limiting, matter-based labels that would divide us from one other.
Understanding our spiritual identity enables us to see more clearly how we reflect God’s goodness in countless unique ways. As we see ourselves and others as the sons and daughters of God’s creating, we see more clearly that we are forever complete, not needing anyone or anything besides God to make us so.
Mary Baker Eddy highlights in her writings seven Bible-based synonyms for God (see “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 587). Here are some ways I have thought about our identity as God’s reflection: We reflect the individuality of Soul, unconfined by a physical body shape or appearance. We are the radiance of Love, regardless of any human relationship status, and the obedient child of Principle, not swayed by human opinions. Each of God’s children reflects the intelligence of Mind, the purity of Spirit, the activity of eternal Life – independent of age – and the uncontaminated integrity of Truth.
Thinking of ourselves and others from this basis frees us from limitations and sinful tendencies that would hold us back from living our God-given goodness more fully. Just as there are infinite ways to arrange musical notes into songs, words into stories, and colors and shapes into art, there are infinite ways for each individual to express the one God, our divine Parent.
We can celebrate our differences when we realize that our common Father-Mother has uniquely endowed each of us with spiritual qualities. We can appreciate that everyone has a niche to fill and a unique contribution to make as an individual expression of God. There is no competition or ranking for this – just the opportunity to express God and to bear witness to God’s expression in everyone’s unique, spiritual identity.
By recognizing the child of God’s creating, we are really recognizing and cherishing the true, spiritual nature of everyone, and our brotherhood and sisterhood with one another. The search for a better understanding of our spiritual roots is glorious! And it is this search that leads us to discover our true heritage.
Adapted from an article published in the Aug. 3, 2020, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.