I am on a quest to be real. To become my real self, I must return to my Creator, the one who designed and created all it means to be human. As the world is proving constantly, it doesn’t understand who we are, why we are here, what is wrong with us, or how to fix what is broken.
At the same time, when people hear a feel-good story about some act of kindness, compassion or heroism, they often say something like, “that has restored my faith in humanity.” It is as though we instinctively know there are certain traits of being human, that those expressions are fewer than the unhuman ones, and that it does our hearts good to see fresh examples of humanness in action.
Becoming real is not easy. The world tries to monopolize our understanding of who we are and what we are about with every conceivable fairy-tale of our existence. Evolution tells us we are nothing more than the product of chance and mutation. Religion tells us we are whatever we decide, take your pick. Pride tells us we are masters of our own destinies (even though evolution has told us we are flukes of mindlessness). It is all such a cesspool of meaningless and contradiction that it gives no hope of being real for real.
And then we find this Book. It claims and confirms that it was authored by God our Creator. It tells us who we are, how we got here, what is wrong with us, how that wrongness is fixed, and what to expect of both the here-and-now of the present and the there-and-then of the future.
What this Book tells me that is more descriptive of anything else it means to be human is this,
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. 
This tells me who I am, a creature made by God in his own image and likeness. It tells me how I got here, by the direct creative expression of God. It tells me what it looks like to be human, to be like the God who created us.
The rest of God’s Book tells us what is wrong with us, that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. It tells us what God has done to fix our sin problem, “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”.
And God’s Book tells us how to return to our design as human beings, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Or, “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Receiving Jesus Christ by faith restores us to the image and likeness of God. It started that work the moment we received Jesus as our Lord and Savior. It continues in this earthly life as we continually grow up to be like Jesus. And it will be completed at the return of Christ when, “we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
Now, to the practical issues of becoming real.
The thing that sucks is facing all the things in our lives that are not real. Getting older doesn’t slow this down. In fact, it almost seems like the more mature we grow, the more unrealness we see since we are becoming all the more attuned to what is real.
What I have been meditating on lately regarding having a faith that works is about returning to realness. A child having faith in Father-God is as real as we can get.
However, sin did not make us unreal by shutting down our faith, but by convincing us to put our faith elsewhere. Adam and Eve did not stop having faith when they succumbed to the serpent, they simply switched their faith from Yahweh to Lucifer (and to themselves as the judge of whose will is best).
When James (a dad-figure to me) takes me aside and clarifies what it means to have faith, he is directing me into what real faith looks like. He is leading me back to what is real, to trust in God our Creator in the real and personal way we were made for in the beginning.
Now that it is so clear that real faith is attaching to Father as his dependent child, I see so many things in me that are trained to trust my sark (flesh). It is poisonously subtle how often I find myself doing this. It is painfully obvious that it is sark-trust instead of God-faith (even when dressed in good “Christian” activities).
However, since God promises, “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”, I can see that, for my ultimate joy, God must return my faith to him. I can also accept that he is okay leading me into miserable experiences of discipline (letting me feel the consequences of my sarkiness) in order to return me to that joy. He “disciplines the one he loves,” in order that we can return to our design in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.
Another father in the faith states his encouragement like this, “Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.” The return to joy is a return to faith in our Creator.
With that in mind, it is no wonder we are told to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” It is because of him that God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Now that we are transferred into Jesus’ kingdom, we are free to daily grow up to be like him. As is written, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)
 Genesis 1:27 (the context is the whole creation history of Genesis 1:1-31, and the specific description of God’s determination regarding man’s creation in Genesis 1:26-27).
 Romans 3:23
 Romans 3:24
 Romans 3:25 (context of these verses is Romans 3:21-26)
 John 1:12-13
 I John 3:2
 James 2:14-26
 This sad moment in human history is described in Genesis 3:1-24.
 Philippians 1:6
 Hebrews 12:6
 II Corinthians 1:24
 II Peter 3:18
 Colossians 1:13-14
 II Corinthians 3:18