We live in a generation where we are constantly trying to define ourselves. This takes many forms. We join clubs in order to find our identities. We may even affiliate ourselves with certain groups of people or maybe a certain thing. I see it all the time on my college campus, the student with his Mac book stickers everywhere, telling the whole world he is a strict macbook user and definitely not a PC user. How about the nature conservatist with the bumper sticker on his car that says “I’m a tree huger” telling the whole world, “My identity lies in my love for nature”. Or (lets get a little more personal here) how about the rainbow flag in a parade with a house song on the radio screaming lyrics like “pride” and “Jump into the pool”. We all strive for Identity. So much so, that without it, we feel lost and out of place.
Yet it is in this conglomerate of different opinions, with different groups, all with their own agenda intent on defining one another, that the quiet still voice says “I define you”. But who has the time to listen? We want to choose what defines us now. It’s our form of control. It’s our ego booster. “How is this an ego booster?” you ask. I’m glad you did :).
I once had a dog called “Baby” (yup, the same one in my previous blog). I remember me arguing with my dad vehemently to name the dog “Baby”. Any other name just would not do! You see, if the dog was
not named by me, than he would not be mine. Hence why I was so intent in the dog’s name being baby. (of course, I was young and did not fully realize that the dog belonged to my dad anyways, no matter what the name was lol. I had to get his permission to name the dog, therefore it was my dad giving the dog the name). When we have children, we name them, because in some way we believe that the child (or children) is/are ours. Giving a name to something is the ultimate sign of ownership. So how does this apply? A name is a sign of identity. I wanted to name my dog “Baby” because I thought he was my baby. Parents (some) name their children certain names in hopes that they will grow to carry out the name’s meaning or just because they like the name. When we choose what defines us whether it be sexual orientation or preference or even prejudices, we in essence are saying we own ourselves. To some, there is no problem in the fact that they own themselves. They are the masters of their own lives. The keeper of their own fortune and misfortunes. But this is in direct contrast with God.
The Scriptures are clear. “you were bought with a price”. “You are not your own” “He who is in Christ is a new creation” “you are fearfully and wonderfully made”. Over and over, the scriptures are clear. We are not our own. We were made and that which is made belongs to Him who made it. Which means our identity rests in Christ.
Let me put it this way. When the Lord brought me back from my seven year rebellion. One of the questions in my mind was “am I ever going to get married? Am I now straight?” But the Lord replied “I haven’t called you to be straight, I’ve called you to be mine.” This is something that has brought me so much freedom. But for a while I thought this only pertained to me. Now I realize, this answer pertains to everyone, for you see, the ultimate calling is to be Christ’s. THAT is our identity. Plain and simple. At the end of the day (and at the beginning) I am not called to be a worshiper, I worship because I am called to be Christ’s. I am not called to be a leader, I lead because I am called to be Christ’s. I am not called to be a lover. I love because I am called to be Christ’s.
Too many people waste too much time and energy trying to figure what God has called them to do. What they don’t realize is that what they are really asking is “what can I define myself by” and in turn they kick God off the throne and place themselves in it (rather I should say we kick God of the throne for I am just as guilty). Is our God really so small that He is not going to guide the heart that loves Him in the way he should go? Does not the scriptures say that “He has laid a path of good works so that we can walk in them” Don’t they also say “lean not on your own understanding but in all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths”? and even further, does the scriptures not say “don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow has its own worries”. Ministry can become a God. Scary really. But when we make our lives revolve around the work of God as oppose to God himself, we effectively say, “I am my own God and this defines me.” But this does not happen in ministry alone, this can happen with anything…anything at all.
Is seeking God’s will wrong then? Of course not, but seeking His will is not the same as letting His will define you. When you seek God’s will, you walk through life knowing that He is in control so that “whatever your hands find to do” you do as unto the Lord, because it is unto the Lord. When God’s will defines you, your main purpose in life is to DO. Not to know, but to do. In other words, you are more concerned about the execution of the assignment than about who is the One who has given you this assignment. And when that happens, you forget about the fact that the assignment is about the assignment giver and not you. And when that happens, the assignment becomes you. To put it concretely: You let ministry dictate who you are, when ministry is just an assignment. Who you are rests in who God says you are, for you are bought with a price.
The problem lies in the fact that this world judges everything by performance. You will lose your job if you don’t perform well,
therefore your performance is key. So much so that at times we will identify ourselves with good performance. Which produces a misplaced emphasis on an exterior action defining interior qualities. You see, other people can’t see interior qualities. But in our minds, we have to help them see by the things we do.
Let us therefore brethren, run to Him who knows us. Look, God created us “you are fearfully and wonderfully MADE” Make no mistake about that. HE knows who you are because He created you to be who you are. The world may have us scared, but the fact is, we still work. And God still wants us, and He still names us because he Owns us. I don’t mind being owned, not at all, that is, if I’m owned by God.
Juan Castillo Jr.