An Issue​ of Identity – Part Two of Your True Selfie

Day One

Our first home! We had skimped, saved and shifted money around to make it happen.

Even more exciting – this home was brand new. I was able to pick the carpet, paint, light fixtures – everything! (At least everything that I could squeeze into our starter home, small budget.)

But it was going to be ours.

Nearly every day, we visited our soon-to-be-home. We walked on the foundation slab; we wrote scriptures on the wall frames. We discussed, deliberated and debated over countertops, carpet and colors.

It was almost finished. The builders just needed to add the final touches, install the lights and hang the doors on the bedrooms.

As we walked through our future home, dreaming of the family memories we would someday make within these walls, we noticed that one of the bedroom doors wouldn’t completely shut.

We pulled and pushed, jimmied and jammed, but it

just.   wouldn’t.  budge.

Gregg called the contractor and told him our dilemma. To which the contractor replied, “It’s fine. Don’t worry.”

Really?

Not one to let something like this slide, Gregg kindly countered, “I don’t think the wall is straight.”

I don’t think contractors like to have their work criticized and called into question.

The contractor pushed back, hauling out some of his fancy tools to prove the straightness of his structure. The quality of his construction.

Gregg pressed a little more, “Try another wall.”

Gregg and the contractor proceeded to walk through the house going wall to wall in search of the faulty area, which eventually led them outside of our house.

Our brick house.

Turns out, the foundation was slightly off, so when they erected the brick exterior, one portion of the brick exterior was also off. This slight miscalculation threw off the integrity of the whole house.

If you’ve spent any time watching HGTV you understand the dangers that lie in building upon a faulty foundation.

I’ve witnessed Chip break the news to Joanna about dangers he discovered beneath hardwood and drywall.

I’ve watched the Property Brothers renovation budget blown to bits from an unexpected find in the foundation.

They had to fix it.

So they went to work…tearing down brick and rebuilding the wall to code. (I must add that because this was a super simple starter home on a very small budget, the company did just enough to get it to code. They didn’t tear the whole side of the house down and actually repair the foundation.)

My point in sharing this story with you is…

Sometimes, if we’re really honest with ourselves, isn’t this how we live?

How we attempt to navigate life?

Doing just enough to keep our lives afloat.

Just enough to look good so no one sees our pain.

Just enough to get by.

We adjust, adapt, patch, paint, coat and cover the cracks and misalignments in our soul.

But, the problem in doing this, it doesn’t deny the reality:

If the foundation is faulty, the stability of the whole structure is compromised. 

This foundation is your identity.

And one day, with just a little extra pressure on an unexpected area, the weak area will cave and reveal the fractures and fissures as life as you know it comes tumbling down.

Your identity will drive how you live. A broken identity will negatively affect your whole life. It will affect your relationship with God and how you interact with others.

And unless you do the hard work of tearing apart what’s broken, you can’t move forward to live the life God intended you to live.

If your identity is broken, your life is broken.

A broken identity will…

  • Steal your confidence,
  • Destroy your self-worth
  • Hinder your ability to make decisions
  • Keep you from moving forward to fulfill the life God created you to live.

What are some of the things you cling to as an essential part of your identity? If someone asked you to describe yourself, what would you say? How would you respond?

Through the years, I have described myself as Gregg’s wife, Jim and Linda’s daughter, Jennifer’s sister, a student, a campus missionary, a pastor’s wife, and Rebecca, Brandon, Justin, Jordan and Jessica’s mother.

In 1 John 3:1, John is encouraging Christ followers to see themselves in a different light.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1

You are a child of God. Lavished in great love by a good Father.

That is who you are and how God sees you.

You are not identified by what people say about you. You are not defined by your accomplishments or the people you associate with. You are not, “a failure”, “hopeless”, “ugly”, “ordinary”, “stupid”, “fat”, “dysfunctional”…

You get the picture?

Many of us spend far too much time looking at what we once were, thinking about what we are and dreaming about what we wish we could be. Allowing the memories of our past to haunt us like disturbing video clips from a horror movie.

My friend, that’s building on a faulty foundation.

But what if we invested this same amount of time and energy to becoming the person God desires for us to be? Building on the foundation of who He says we are?

God has a high calling on your life. He takes great pleasure in using ordinary, average people to do amazing things. He sees the incredible value, worth and potential in YOU!

He desires for you to become everything He created you to be, which may involve tearing down some walls—habits, attitudes and ways of thinking—and that may be a little scary at first.

But in the end, your identity will be built on a solid, unshakeable foundation that will endure the test of time.

And that is completely worth the work and mess of the renovation.

 

Questions

  1. Do you see yourself as a child of God? Why or why not?
  2. How have you seen a broken identity affect your life?
  3. If someone asked you to describe yourself, how would you respond? What would you say?
Advertisements

Contagiously Clean

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. Luke 5:12-13

Leprosy is a horrible disease that affects the skin destroys the nerve endings, making its victim unable to feel anything. Sores break out on the skin and when they begin to ulcerate, the smell is horrible. Those diagnosed with leprosy were declared “unclean” in the Jewish culture, and because leprosy was contagious, those who contracted it were forbidden to live in the community. They were considered outcasts and even those who touched them would also be considered unclean.

In this Bible story, Luke tells us that this man was covered in leprosy. Imagine the disfigurement. Sense the stench coming from his body. Feel the fear that gripped people as they saw this man enter the community, their community – a community filled with their children and the people they loved. And this man had the audacity to enter their midst, with his body decaying and oozing leprosy in their town.

What would you do? How would you treat this man? Honestly, I would grab my kids and run. Sadly, I don’t think I would even try to be kind or compassionate; I’d be more concerned about staying away from him.

Most likely this man was used to rude treatment, insensitive comments, fearful gazes and people shrinking back in his presence. He had lived as an outcast, rejected by society, a disgrace to his family, and shunned in the Jewish culture.

In desperation, as a last resort, this man musters a shred of hope and cries out to Jesus, “If you are willing…”

Notice that he didn’t say, “If you are able…” This man knew rejection. He wore the scars of shame. He lived in the shadows as an outcast—unloved, unwanted, unaccepted and avoided by people. His concern wasn’t in Christ’s ability. It was Jesus’ willingness to help him.

Would Jesus help someone like me?

Could Jesus love – or even kinda care about – someone like me?

And Jesus responds by touching him.

What a tender moment Luke captures! Jesus touched the man before he cleansed him. He drew near to this man while he was still unclean, still an outcast, still unacceptable, still avoided by society. Jesus identifies with him by becoming unclean himself before He heals him.

Is your story any different? Not really. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul reminds us that

God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

It is in our uncleanliness, in our pain, in our ugliness that Jesus extends His love to cleanse and heal our lives. In our awkwardness and feeling alienated from God, Jesus reaches out to us and does a beautiful thing.

He becomes sin for us, sharing our pain, taking the burden of our shame upon Himself.

Sin, like leprosy, isolates us, cloaking us in shame. Even more importantly, it isolates us from God. It’s highly contagious – running unrestrained and rampant in our world like chicken pox in an elementary school.

Shame tells us that what we’ve done is too bad to be forgiven, that our mistakes are irreparable and our failures are unrecoverable. Shame whispers to us that our lives are beyond repair.

But to the contrary, Jesus is contagiously clean. Anything He touches is restored. Anything in His presence is transformed, made holy, righteous and whole. In His light, the darkness of shame begins to recede, making way for truth. Pure, hope-full, grace-filled truth!

Our failures become opportunities for growth, our mistakes are forgiven, leaving us to experience His abundant grace generously, and undeservedly poured out to us.

You don’t have to shrink back in fear; you no longer have to live isolated, bound by sin and cloaked in shame.

You don’t have to doubt God’s willingness to cleanse you.

In Christ, you are clean.

What fear, failure or feeling of shame keeps you from believing the truth that, in Christ, you are clean?

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

Easier Said Than Done

Love. It’s a word that’s thrown around a lot, isn’t it? “I love coffee.” “I love the beach.” “I love chocolate.” It’s a word that makes you feel all warm inside. Love sounds wonderful, attainable, desirable. In fact, I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who thinks that love isn’t a good thing. I mean, how can you NOT love love? Love is cute babies and puppies, rainbows and hearts, right?

Nobody really has an issue with “love”. Inherently, we all know that love is the best way to live.

In 1 John 3:11, Jesus’ closest disciple, John, says this about love:

1Jn311-love one another.

In other words John is saying, “I know you guys have heard this before, but let me tell you again. You really need to love each other.”

And then in what would appear to be an abrupt changing of the subject, John begins to describe a conflict between two brothers (Cain and Abel in Genesis 4) where the strife grew so intense that one brother actually killed the other brother!

Why would John – after one short sentence talking about love – introduce this story from Genesis about murder? Surely John could have expounded on the concept of love, warm feelings and happy emotions? Did he have to go so dark, so quickly? Why does he have to get so intense. What a party pooper.

Or perhaps, the two concepts are inseparably linked? Is it possible for us to truly and genuinely love someone without considering the condition and health of our own heart first?

True love requires that we deal with our heart. Cain allowed his jealousy and insecurity towards his brother to grow untended in his heart. He gave the enemy access permitting anger and unforgiveness to fester deep in his heart.

While anger, jealousy and unforgiveness most of the time do not end in the physical act of murder, John is linking the condition of our heart directly to our ability to truly, selflessly, demonstrate Christlike love to others.

If we fail to keep our hearts clean, love – as wonderful as it is conceptually – is impossible for us to genuinely demonstrate and live out.

In these few verses, John reminds us…

  1. We should love. It’s the right, noble and godly thing to do. It’s how God created us to live and it’s how we show His love to the world. 

John gently points out by way of illustration…

  1. Love is easier said than lived. (1 John 3:12)

John urged the people, “Don’t be like Cain.” It didn’t end well for him and it won’t end well for you either. Living with anger, jealousy and unforgiviness will make you miserable and it’s dishonorable to God. Work with all your might to keep your heart clean.

  • Even when your co-worker gets the job promotion that you should have received.
  • Even when your friend’s marriage is thriving, but yours is struggling and barely holding on.
  • Even when your neighbors remodel their house and your house is dated and falling apart.
  • Even when your kids tell you that their friends are going on a Disney cruise for their summer vacation, but you don’t have the budget for a vacation this year.

Keep your heart clean of jealousy, anger and bitterness. Don’t give the evil one access to your heart.

John also warns them…

  1. Don’t be surprised when other people hate you. (1 John 3:13-15)

You may strive for love. You may work really hard to do the right thing and keep your heart clean. But many people won’t. While they know love is a good thing, while they agree that it is a healthy way to live, when faced with offense, insecurity and jealousy, many people won’t choose the way of love.

And then John finishes this short thought by showing us the best example of love in bodily form – Jesus.

  1. Jesus’ love serves and gives regardless of whether or not love is extended towards you. (1 John 3:16)

The love that Jesus modeled for us expressed love at the expense of selfish desires, feelings and comfort. It was love that was readily willing to sacrifice to the point of death.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16

That, my friend, is real love.