"Who am I?"
It's a question that we don't think about directly most of the time. But it's also one that we seem to answer most of our waking hours.
People live their lives the way that they define them...or the way that we have allowed others to define them for us. Seriously, think about it for a bit. We really do.
A friend of mine had a tough day yesterday. So I am hoping that I can cheer him up a bit. But what I am about to write applies to everyone.
Years ago when I was coming out of my stupidity and rebellion, I was given a book to read called "Victory over the Darkness" by Neil T. Anderson. You can hit up his website if you wish.
http://www.ficm.org/newsite/index.php Anyway, in one of the chapters, he covers the subject of how we define ourselves according to The World and our struggles, and then compares it to how God views us if we are "In Christ." They are two very different points of view.
Every Spring at Living Waters, we host a BBQ for Minnesota Teen Challenge. MNTC is a Public/Private ministry that works with folks who struggle with alcohol and drug related issues. They really do some amazing work, and it is awesome to hear the stories of these people as God moves in a heals their lives.
This past Spring, one of the speakers pointed out something that went hand in hand with what I had read in Victory over the Darkness. The speaker said essentially, "I am NOT an alcoholic! I am a CHILD of GOD who happens to struggle with alcohol."
That got me thinking about something a friend of mine asked rhetorically a long time ago. "If someone in A.A. hasn't had a drink in 20 years, are they still an alcoholic? When do they stop calling themselves that?" Now I am certainly not trying to make light of addiction, but I am trying to say that maybe there are better and healthier ways for people to define themselves.
My Dad has a couple of catch phrases that he likes to use on an almost daily basis. When people ask what he does, he likes to say "I am about my Father's business." When he sees me, he likes to remind me that "You are a child of the King."
Obviously you need to be careful with catch phrases. There is a lady at the store I work at who is an absolute pill in almost every way. She's really good at passing judgement and being very religious. Often, without being prompted, she will volunteer that "I don't work for the store. I work for God. Ack, ack, ack." <--- That would be the sound of her laugh, which pierces both flesh, bone, marrow and soul. Then she will slowly ascend into her handicapped van with it's "Christian" bumper stickers, and drive slowly & religiously away.
Who I am in Christ
A friend of mine is Gay. That is how he defines himself. He also wants to follow Jesus. Needless to say, it's a struggle. I have another friend who was a "Pot Head." He loved the Geef. He also follows Jesus. He tells me that some days he really craves a big bong hit. However, he doesn't call himself a Pot-Head. (The issue is obviously still there, but he doesn't allow it to define him.)
Outside of Christ, we ARE what we do. Fallen, broken, helpless...we do what we are...sinful things. (I like that flip-flopping of words.)
However, one we are IN Christ, what are we now? (And away we go.)
Jn. 1:12 = I am God's child, Jn. 15:15 = I am Christ's friend, Rom. 5:1 = I am Justified, 1 Cor. 6:17 = I am united with the Lord, 1 Cor 6:19-20 = I am bought with a price; I belong to God, 1 Cor. 12:27 = I am a member of Christ's body, Eph. 1:1 = I am a saint, Eph. 1:5 = I have been adopted as God's child, Col. 1:14 = I have been redeemed and forgiven, Col. 2:10 = I am complete in Christ, Phil. 1:6 = I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected, Phil. 3:20 = I am a citizen of heaven, Heb. 4:16 = I can find grace & mercy in my time of need, 1 Jn. 5:18 = I am born of God; the evil one cannot touch me.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.
I will define myself by the things I enjoy, being outdoors, history, fishing, geeky stuff. But I often tend to define myself by my mistakes and struggles. I suppose we all do to one extent or the other. But the absolute FACT of the matter is that God doesn't!!! He sees & defines me by what he has accomplished FOR me, and is now doing IN me. We often do not feel that truth subjectively. But it is still objectively true.
God does not define me or see me based on whatever sins & temptations I am struggling with at any given time, because that would cause him to reduce himself and what he accomplished on the cross. "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. ALL this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." 2 Cor. 5:16-18.
I think that Satan would love for us to forget that fact. He would love for us to think about ourselves from the world's perspective. That way, it is so much easier to kick & beat ourselves up over our imperfections. All the while, God is standing there saying, "Why are you doing that? I've already dealt with that stuff because you couldn't Just let me hold you."
The average male struggles with lust in one form or another. Sorry ladies, we just do. My friend Tom told me a story a few weeks ago about a 20-something asking an elderly man at his church what it's like to no longer have to deal with lust. The old guy said, "When it happens, I'll be sure to let you know."
Now, my friend who still craves pot from time to time, does not define himself by that. It could very well be an issue that he struggles with until the day he dies. But it is NOT who he is at his core...not since Jesus took up residence, anyway. He has chosen to allow Christ to define who he is. So did that fellow who spoke a few weeks ago at the MNTC picnic. A struggle with alcohol may or may not be an issue for him until the day he dies, but Christ is in him and he belongs to God.
I do not define myself over who I might get a boner over. (I'm not trying to be crude, just blunt & matter-of-fact.) It seems to me that if Same-Sex attraction is an issue for a person, it's no more or less a struggle than any other issue...and it's just plain stupid and counter productive when the church treats it that way. This is just my opinion, so feel free to disagree, but it just seems to me that Straight, Bisexual or Gay is at best a secondary label for someone who follows Jesus.
Honestly, what sounds healthier, to allow you and your struggles/issues to tell you who you are? Or does the objective truth of how Jesus views you sound like a better bet?
He likes you. He loves you. He really does.