Archives For identity

We as a people spend an inordinate time thinking about the past. Some even spend their days living in the past, desperate to recapture elements from their youth. For disciples of Jesus, I have a word of admonition: forget the past. Forget everything you’ve done. Instead, I want you to focus on what you will do both at this moment, and from this moment. It’s a lesson I am still learning but desperately want to master.

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What we’ve done up until this moment matters little to our life going forward. Sure, we may have laid the groundwork for future work. There’s definite value in this. But with the knowledge every second may be our last, I submit focusing on what we will do from this moment forward is far more valuable than what we’ve done before.

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At least in the Western world, we tend to allow our lives to be defined by what we produce or consume. We measure our success in comparison to our friends and neighbors, whether it’s by how far up the corporate ladder we’ve climbed or how many toys we’ve collected. If our neighbor buys a new car, chances are good we’ll suddenly feel compelled to do the same.

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If our friend and coworker receives a promotion, we’ll likely tell someone else the reasons we deserved it more than they did. When our identity is defined in relation to someone else, it’s easy to let these kinds of ugly reactions occur in our lives.

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We love Jesus and want to dedicate our lives to Him, but our stubborn old self keeps getting in the way. How do we conform our will to that of God? Francois Fenelon once wrote, “The way to have a good will that conforms to God is to give up our desires and fears and to leave ourselves completely in His hands. Those who do so… can never be moved, because their only desire is for God.”

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Living God’s will for your life necessitates a complete letting go. Too often we make the mistake of trying to figure out how to use our dreams and passions in conjunction with God’s will. That’s a totally backwards approach.

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We live in a world where people are constantly searching for their identity. They try and find it in their career, in their relationships, in their possessions, or in their looks. There is a gnawing ache inside each of them that longs to be filled, so life becomes a relentless pursuit to define who they are. Typically when you ask someone who they are, they respond by telling you what they do or in what circles they run.

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Identity is an intensely personal and internal concept that we mysteriously try and define through that which is external. Sadly, even some believers in Christ fall into this trap of Satan. In order to define ourselves, we must first understand what does not define us.
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As I write this, we are on the verge of celebrating Independence Day in America. At the church I attended this past Sunday, the walkway was lined with small American flags. As one service closed, they displayed large images of the flag on massive monitors while the people were led in singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Many were moved and inspired. Personally I felt sick. There was so much wrong with this setting that I barely know where to begin. It was yet another vulgar display of the Church identifying with their cultural heritage as opposed to their spiritual birthright.

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