Who You Are

I’m always asking (of myself and others) the question: Who are you? I’ve realized that it’s a very deceptive topic.

I was speaking with a friend recently who is questioning her identity to some degree (and has been for some time, I think), and in trying to find a great wisdom to share with her, to help her see that her life has purpose, I defaulted to that wonderful question: If you could do anything with your life and not have to worry about finances or anything like that, what would you do? What would make you happiest?

It’s a fair question in one regard. Having an idea of what we desire and what would give us pleasure helps to clarify the puzzle of our identity. It is only a piece, though. And unfortunately, it also has the mischievous manner of confusing who we are with what we do. They are not the same.

You are not merely a sum of all the choices you make. You are not simply what you do with your life. What you do, your life decisions (even daily decisions), reflect aspects of your character–but they are not who you are. They are not what makes you a valuable person.

Who you are is another matter. Who can answer such a question? I think the only hope of being anyone–or anything–is to find our identity in Christ, to understand that we are created in His image, to accept that tragic and beautiful mystery–that He gave His life to be reconciled to us.

A wise man once told me that love isn’t nearly as much about being “worthy of love” as it is about someone placing worth in us. That is what Christ has done. Not one of us deserves His love, yet He lavishes it freely upon us.

Find your identity in Him. And please…

…remind me to do the same.

What Does Christ Look Like?

The question I turned over last night was this: What does a practical Christianity look like in the world around us?

I mulled over it for quite awhile, wondering how I could urge conversation that would go deeper than our speak-easy Christianese. Be honest, was your first reaction to give me some word like “loving,” or “forgiving”? I don’t at all diminish those as answers; I merely think they are unspecific, and therefore, impractical in terms of guiding our lives by it.

Can we marry an idea with an example?  We all know that Christ is merciful; but when we put it into an example, with context, and speak about a woman–broken, surrounded by accusers, bent to the ground in shame–and how Christ silenced the voices (within and without), granting her grace and the opportunity to change, then we see an example of His mercy in a real way. It becomes more than a theory. It becomes the person of Christ Himself.

But we are not living in 1st century Palestine. We seldom (to be read “never”) see a woman about to be stoned for her sexual exploits. So what does Christ’s mercy look like in a society of texting, facebook, twitter, dvr, oil spills, political unrest?

What does Christ look like in America today? When have you seen Him last? What was He doing?

Luke 2:11

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

What more can we say?

Rejoice, friends. Our Savior has come. May your heart be filled with the wonder of his coming.

Merry Christmas!

What is Man?

There is a place between the intellect and the heart–a fence, as it were, that divides the greener sides of faith and truth. There are those who would have us believe that our feelings justify our faith, that if something feels right then it must be right; and there are those who would have us test everything, defend everything, rationalize everything we claim as true. I think maybe both have valid points (and I’ve certainly claimed both at different times in my life). But I think there’s a compromise between the two.

I think there must be. If something could only be called “true” if we were able to absolutely prove it beyond question, then we would never believe anything. And conversely, if something could be called “true” by the mere emotion we feel, we would believe anything. The two must balance each other.

But there’s something more. There is something deeper than our brains and our hearts. I’m not sure what it is–kidneys, perhaps?

Last night, after a long and difficult day, I stood on the back deck, breathing deep of the cool Autumn air and gazing upon the starry host that God has given us. Sometimes when I’m silent, I think I can hear them declaring God’s glory. And it reminds me how small I am. How insignificant. Just a speck of dust in this great existence God has called into being.

And it humbles me. It brings low the importance of both my intellect and my emotions. It brings low my pride in thinking that I might claim to “know” anything about the Keeper of the Worlds. What can man truly know? What can man truly comprehend of a God who is altogether separate from everything else we can know?

And in spite of our tiny-ness, our inability to rightly comprehend Him or serve Him, He has given the full measure of His love for us. Not only has He loved us, but He has loved us with an everlasting love, and set us just a little lower than the heavenly beings. He has crowned us with glory and honor.

What is man that He is mindful of us?

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

Psalm 8:3-5, ESV

Perhaps we try too hard to justify what God speaks to our souls. Perhaps the question is not whether we can prove a thing, or whether it feels right; rather, perhaps the question is whether we can recognize the stillness of God’s voice as He speaks to us through shooting stars and Saturn and the Milky Way. And when He does–will we accept it, deep within us, where neither knowledge nor emotion are valid proofs?