Thursday, April 23, 2015

LEGACYouth: "Who are You?"

Remember the 'Squashed Banana' scene in "The Lion King" when Rafiki confirms Simba's identity just moments before his radical encounter with Mufasa?

I don’t know about you, but this part always gives me chills...

...perhaps since I can relate to Simba in knowing what it’s like to lose sight of who am I.1

Truth is: There's something innate about our need to discover who we are, a reality we find not only within ourselves, but also reflected in culture, media...even in our relationships.



Yet, regardless of where we are in life, it’s important to address/readdress the question of “Who am I?

True, it may seem trivial, but you’d be surprised how thwarted and twisted our answers become if we don’t constantly connect them to God's Word. ‘Cause the fact of the matter is, if we don’t base what's true to us with what’s true to God, it’s like we’re intentionally fogging up the lens through which we see. If you can see, why the shrek would you want to go blind?

Speaking of blind, there’s an ancient Indian story that tells of six blind men who attempted to describe an elephant based on what part of the elephant they were examining with their hands. Because of their blindness, they drew some pretty comical conclusions. One felt the leg and decided the elephant was a pillar. Another touched the tusk and determined it was a solid pipe. Still another grabbed the tail and proclaimed it to be nothing more than rope. The story goes on and in the end a man blessed with sight enters and sees the whole picture, that it was, in fact, an elephant.

Now...while this story is used by world religions to describe what they incorrectly believe to be the different paths to God, I want to use it to illustrate how incomplete our view and understanding is of ourselves. Often, we make the mistake of finding our identity without realizing that in our blindness we have seen only a tiny part of the big picture. For example, a guy may play a sport really well so he finds his identity in the fact that he is an athlete. A girl might be really pretty and therefore she’s finds her identity in her external appearance. The problem is...this is such an incomplete picture. Why? Because Jesus sees so much more when He looks at us.2
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Before I jump into our Scripture reading for the day, I want to stress some mind-blowing statistics3 :
  • From the 266 days from your conception to your birth, one single fertilized call became a staggeringly complex organism of some 200 million cells.
  • Your growth rate was such that if you had continued to grow from birth at the same rate, then you would be 75 feet tall and weigh several tons by the age of 16.
  • Each cell as it divided exactly copied your unique genetic code, so that each cell would now be uniquely you.
  • To view the code from just one cell would require watching 5 million frames of a TV.
  • Each one of us has between 10 and 15 billion brain cells. If each cell were a person, then they would populate two planets the size of earth.
  • Your heart began beating after about 21 days when you were only 3mm long.
  • You could hear your mother’s voice after 16 weeks and also had your own unique fingerprints.
Isn't that incredible?

And to think some say there’s no God...no creator of the universe...that somehow there can be a dividing line between science and faith.


 

Seriously…YOU ARE SO FREAKIN’ SPECIAL! There is no one else in the world like you.

If you can’t take my word for it, then take it from God…who not only made us in His image (Genesis 1:27) but loved us enough to rescue us (John 3:16) so we could gain a new spiritual identity through His Son.
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Concerning the compilation video above, did anyone catch the exchange between Adam Sandler & Jack Nicholson? I honestly never thought I’d reference a spiritual concept based on a clip starring those two.

But what Jack’s character is telling Adam’s character is actually quite profound.

The danger in basing your identity in the things that you do, the way you look, the friends you hang out with, and so on…lies in misplaced value. When you put your worth in things that constantly change…in things that can be taken away…you place your value in things that can be stripped away.

However, when we ‘selah’ on the fact man’s ways are variable, but God’s ways are everlasting (Habakkuk 3:6), we find our actual identity (i.e. the part of you that truly and accurately describes who you are at the core of your being), does not change. Thus, if we think our identity is based on performance, then we not only risk misunderstanding God in the fullness of His grace, but we also  flirt with the idea our identity is synonymous with our past...that somehow we're the sum of our past mistakes.

But this couldn't be further from the truth.

Sure, you may no longer be the athlete you once were, what you see as “good looks” may change; however, how God designed you…His intentions for you will never change.  

For example...let’s say you’re training for a big race or sporting event. Obviously, you work out to build muscle, stamina, endurance; however, your identity is not a fit, sexy lookin’ athlete. Rather, your identity is determined, devoted, willed, etc.

See the difference?

Even though the byproduct of your identity (i.e. what you do) is apparent, what exists at your core (“who you are”) cannot be measured or quantified.

This is why we preach the 3/4B principle: We belong to God…and having received the unconditional love of God, we can believe in Him and adapt how we behave accordingly. This ultimately allows us to become more like Christ.

Note: If you swap ‘behave’ and ‘belong’, then chances are you’re abiding by a performance mentality and have a skewed grasp on grace & who you are in Christ.
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Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 2:9-10

“…for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” (NLT)

Let’s look at a few of the things that are mentioned in those verses.

Chosen/God's People

§  God, in all His amazing power and wisdom, has looked at you and said, “This is a person that I love. I want to know this person better. I chose you.” Because you belong to God, you have the ability to change the world with His love and grace.

Royal Priest

§  You are “royalty”, which means that you are an adopted child of the Creator of the Universe. He loves you, not as a friend or a follower, but as a son or a daughter.

You are a priest. That carries so many meanings. You have the ability to help lead others to that same incredible love that God has for you.

Of course, these are just a few of the things that the Bible says are your true identity. The best part is that no one can take that away from you. Nothing you do, no matter what life throws at you, your identity in Jesus Christ cannot be shaken or destroyed. Jesus sees the full picture of who you are.2

Footnotes
1) Thankfully, like Rafiki, the Holy Spirit is faithful to whack me into a better place (#likeagoodneighbor) and set me back on track.
2) Story retrieved from http://ministrytoyouth.com/youth-group-lessons-on-identity/
3) Stats retrieved from http://insight.typepad.co.uk/insight/2008/09/who-am-i.html

Video compiled by Cameron Fry

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