I was searching through my notes for this series of messages and I found one of the early research documents that I had printed. It is from the website discoveringidentity.com. Highlighted on my printed page are these words:
“Identity is less about the ‘who we are’ and more about ‘what we are’…what someone is currently doing and what else they could potentially do…identity today is so much more than it used to mean in the past. It is really about reputation, relationships, context, activity, behavior and being able to take fast, appropriate action in reaction to things that happen.”
There is an old adage – “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Of course the wisdom in this saying is simple – what is on the outside does not tell the full story of what is on the inside. You have to dive in and read the book to get the full gist of the story. And life is the same – we have to risk involvement with another person in order to discover the deeper story of their experience, their context, and their vision.
In church circles, we try to expose people to the risk of assimilate people into the life of Christ. Our model is to expose each person to the story, the teachings, and the grace of God. The invitation is engagement – that a person would intentionally take the journey to discover for themselves the meaning of God’s story intersected with their own. Of course the “win” is defined as the transformation away from selfish living to sacrificial living (I know – deep, coded Christianese – bear with me!)
I simply hope that each person we encounter – either at church or in public might be encouraged to take a deeper look beyond the dust jacket of our lives. I hope that the story that God is crafting in us, points to Him. I hope that our identity in Christ emerges on the pages of our life so that when someone gets to know us, they also come to know Jesus Christ.
But this doesn’t happen without intentionality. An author doesn’t craft a timeless work by accident. Ayn Rand didn’t write Atlas Shrugged on a whim. Leo Tolstoy didn’t weave the story line of Anna Karenina flippantly. The 40+ authors of the manuscripts that are contained within the Holy Bible didn’t pen them in the short time I take to write this blog entry. Each one in their own time and context wrestled with a thought, an understanding, an insight that blossomed over time and attention. And through intentional toil and struggle they produced a work that spoke and continues to speak.
I believe that God intends to do the very same thing with our lives. His Spirit has a notion, an understanding, an insight as to what is possible for each of us. Writing upon our hearts line by line, God crafts our story through the central theme of His grace and love. This intentional toil and struggle will produce a work that will speak for God and hopefully continue to speak of God. And our very reputation, relationships, context, activity, behavior and ability to respond to life’s circumstances will point to the core of our identity – a true follower of Jesus Christ.
So what do people say about you? This is a reflection of your reputation.
Are you easy to talk to or do people avoid you? This might be an indication of your ability to form relationships.
Are you more comfortable with the norms of society or are you trying to emulate the values of your faith? This will define the context of your life.
Are you employed for your own benefit or to be used by God? How you utilize the fruit of your activity speaks to volumes to God and others.
Are your behaviors an outgrowth of self or others? Orientation is key to glorifying God with your life.
Ultimately how you answer these questions will determine your ability or inability to respond to divine appointments and opportunities. On a personal note – I want the storyline of God to take over the pages of my life simply because it is the only story that can reach the world.
Who is writing your story?
What identity is emerging from the pages?
Is it God’s?