As I walked today, I was thinking about how people change or rather, if they change. It seems that humans by nature—fallen nature, that is—choose to act more like beasts than images of God. Everything in culture pushes in that direction: science, advertising, movies, ‘that’s just the way I am’ mentalities, to name a few examples.
But Scripture offers quite a different picture of humanity. Scripture radically claims that we are not animals; we are not just the most developed being on the evolutionary trajectory. Genesis 1 already makes this clear in the structure of the chapter, a structure based on separation. Each component of creation is separated from the next with the aim of preparing a place for the grand finale: humans. This final creative act is clearly different from those that precede it in both form and function.
So regardless of the messages that culture sends, and regardless of the ways our own fallen nature tries to convince us that we are nothing more than naked apes, the Bible is clear that we are intended to be so much more.
And this is where grace comes in. Proverbial wisdom tells us that a zebra can’t change his stripes. Or, we might say, a human can’t change their fingerprints. The point of this proverb is, of course, that people don’t change and you shouldn’t trust someone who says she has changed because, after all, ‘zebras don’t change their stripes.’
Grace, however, in fact changes our ‘stripes.’ Grace picks us up, turns us around from a trajectory toward beastly behavior, and points us toward and enables truly human behavior. Grace, in other words, not only changes our stripes, it moves us in the direction of the stripes God intended us to have: image of God stripes.
And maybe, that is one part of what is so amazing about grace.