Identity and Space and Time

Photo by Shawn Lee on Unsplash

We noted in a prior article that humanity is connected to creation because we are also created beings. This means we are subject to some of the same limitations that all of creation operates under. One of those limitations is the reality of space and time.

Space and Time

If verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1 point to the reality of space (as God “created” something out of nothing), then verses 3 through 5 underscore the presence of time (as God formed the “light” to measure the flow of time). The created order exists and functions within a context of space and time. Similarly, human beings are subject to the limits of a physical world that is moving irreversibly through time. We, too, are bound by the limits of space and time. If we fail to recognize this, then we fail to understand a fundamental aspect of our identity.

The notion that we can transcend space and/or time is the stuff of science fiction (or perhaps non-science fiction) and anti-biblical worldviews. It may be interesting and entertaining to imagine, but those who believe they can move beyond the boundaries of space and time are generally considered to be “a few bricks shy of a full load.” As we will explore later, the recognition of the fact of space and time is essential to a healthy identity. And, it is a recognition that develops quite naturally in the earliest years of a child’s life. What’s important to note at this point, however, is that we can only understand who we are in the context of the larger created order that is characterized by space and time. We are inescapably connected to, and part of, the physical, time-constrained, created order.

Why Space and Time Matter to Identity

This holds enormous implications for individual identity. If I am bound by the limits of space, then my identity is defined, to some degree, by my geographic location. I live in North America on Planet Earth rather than Mars. This is part of who I am. I’m also defined, to some degree, by my physical characteristics. I am tall rather than short, fair complected rather than dark. The list could go on.

I’m also defined by the movement of time. As a child I become aware that I am aging. The people I love are aging. I discover I am “young,” not “old.” I develop memories in the context of time and begin to anticipate or expect future events based on the pace of time. These memories and expectations help define my identity. My history and hope (or lack of hope) inform who I am.

Space and Time are Relevant to our Discipleship

As educators and parents, it’s essential that we consider the twin realities of space and time in our educational strategies. The world is becoming increasingly hostile to a biblical concept of space and time, buying into a quasi-scientific mentality that values mystery and fluidity more than the fixed nature of reality. If we fail to teach a biblical view of space and time, our children will struggle with identity simply because they have no sense of being connected to a larger universe that is limited by space and time. If space and time are nothing, then I am nothing. Which brings us to another important aspect of creation; distinction and homogeneity. We'll cover that in a subsequent article.

This article is one of a series related to identity.

Find Helping People Develop a Biblical Identity here.

Find We Are More Than We Think here.

Find Identity Runs Deep here.

Find Shaping Identity in the Local Church here.

Find Identity and the God of the Bible here.

Find Identity, Relationships, and Distinction here.

Find Attachments and Identity here. 

Find The Power of the Individual in Shaping Identity here.

Find The Power of the Community in Shaping Identity here. 

Find The Surrounding Environment and Identity here.

Find A Biblical Identity Model here. 

Find Identity Development and Early Christian Education here.

Find Babies, Identity Development, and Attachments here.

Find The Story of Who We Are here.

Rick Edwards
Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher

See a list of other articles by Rick Edwards.

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