Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kingdom Identity

I think that it would be somewhat accurate to say that every person has or is going/gone through a period in life in which they are trying to figure out who they are and what their purpose is. Last year, I had what I have now come to call, my quarter-life crisis. It was a time in which things were just not settled in my soul. I knew that I was meant for something that I wasn't currently doing, but didn't know what. It was stressful. It sucked. Thankfully, God has guided me out of that wilderness into the place I am now (which is not so much more defined as it is better directed).

The reason I bring this up is because today I want to tell you two things and I think it will help if I can relate them to myself. These are meant to be defining markers in discovering your Kingdom-of-God identity. The first is:

You are not the sum total of your experiences and abilities.

 Conversely, you are also not the sum total of your inexperience and inabilities. When a person holds this view, they are seeing themselves in utilitarian terms; that is, "I am only as good, acceptable, worthy-of-life, etc. as I am experienced or capable". The problem with that is that no one in the world can actually be "acceptable" to this standard. This is simply because there is too much in the universe to experience and there is too much that a human could be capable of. So where do you draw the line? When are you good enough? The answer is never; chasing that definition of yourself is like trying to sweep up that last little bit of dust into a dustpan with a lip on it -- the line will always evade you. Instead, there is a greater truth -- a better way to define yourself: 

You are the sum total of the relationships you have.

When you view your life in relational terms instead of utilitarian terms, you see the value and beauty in the world. I am only as much me as I am in relationship with all of you (whoever that is). The beautiful thing about this is that it naturally fits into how we behave as creatures. It is natural to have one relationship that filters all other relationships. For a child, this may be the parent; for a spouse, their other; for a believer, it is Christ. This means that the believer's relationship with Christ not only dictates how they see themselves, but how they see every other relationship, which in the above definition of self, circles back on how to understand oneself. This is why, as a Christian, it still hurts when loved ones of the faith die: a small part of our identity is separated from us. That part that was your mother, your uncle, your sister or brother is now separated -- and it hurts. This idea also explains why men revert to an animal state when lost in the wilderness or stranded on an island. It also explains why solitary confinement is an effective punishment. Finally, it explains why the church needs each member of the body, all in line after the head, Christ. 

The second thing I want to tell you is:

God's goodness is greater than your shortcomings.

I found written in the back of an old Bible I own this quote: "God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called." While I don't believe the first part is true, I definitely agree that he equips the called. One theme that echos throughout the entirety of Scriptures is that God is faithful to provide what is needed when it is needed so that his will can be done. My failures and my sin are no stumbling block for God. My inability to produce goodness on my own is no stumbling block for God; furthermore, the same is true for you. Now, don't misunderstand, this is no excuse to do whatever you want; God still demands righteousness from those who seek him. What I'm saying here is that when we fail (and fail we will), it will never be so disastrous that God cannot make beautiful things come of our mess.

So, when you're trying to figure out who you are in creation, remember that it has little or nothing to do with what you can do and what you have experienced, but everything to do with who you commune with; who do you know? If it is Christ, the rest will fall into place; if it is not Christ which defines all other relationships, I fear you will always have an emptiness in your soul. Secondly, when discovering yourself, be courageous to step out and strive for things; Jesus said to seek his Kingdom first, not find his Kingdom first and everything shall be added to you. God does not expect us to achieve his will alone, but to strive for it, then the Spirit which is in you will carry you when your feet fail you; but what feet fail while standing still? none. You must be moving toward his will and don't be shackled by your shortcomings.

Pray that God reveals these things in your heart as I have just done in your mind. You are loved and worth loving, according to God. You are for his purpose, regardless of your personal junk.


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