Introverted, passionate, Christian. "Who are you?" My daydream was suddenly interrupted as I was asked this question in class, a question that demanded more time to answer than I was given. People have historically identified themselves according to their roles in life: mother, sister, photographer, student, artist, girlfriend, etc., but as our culture has shifted, so has our process of defining ourselves. No longer seeing ourselves in light of others, we see ourselves in our personality traits and in what makes us unique and different than others. Neither way is right or correct, but there may be a better way to identify ourselves. A way that is more constant and stable, that doesn't shatter when people enter or exit our lives or leave us disheartened when we fail to live up to who we think we should be. There is a deeper, more profound identity weaving thoughout the fabric of creation and time, an identity outside of ourselves.
I am a creature dependent upon its creator, a woman fashioned from man in the image of YHWH, with the church as the dwelling place of God's presence and the carrier of His kingdom.
I struggle A LOT with insecurity, self-doubt, and caring what others think of me. So, it is a pretty regular activity of mine to dwell on my identity. As I was driving to class a few weeks ago, the above "identity statement" echoed inside of my mind and immediately took root within my heart. For now, I will just work through the first part: I am a creature dependent upon its creator.
Time for some honesty... I don't want to be a creature, I want to be the creator, the independent one, the one in control. I want to be God. How do I know this? The Bible tells me, and I see this sin painted on my life.
In Genesis 3 we see the fall of mankind, the grievous event where man and woman chose to not trust the love and goodness of God. Satan poses questions to Eve to make her question and doubt the character of God. He distorts God’s character by implying that God doesn’t really love us, and that we can’t really trust Him, so what we need to do is grow a little independent of Him, to stand up to Him and be like Him. Martha Kilpatrick says, “Pounding us from the womb- day in and day out- is the effort of the enemy to awaken that Lie and connect us to… that old Lie. It is a lie about God’s character- His very being. Satan started with a lie about the obvious, and it became a lie about God’s very being. You need to know who He is. We were born with blasphemy in our genes, and it will surface in our reactions in a split second. It does in mine… and I know it does in yours. It’s natural. Do you understand?”
What does this look like in my life? I control how close people get to me, so I can control what parts of me they see, thus controlling their perception of me. If they really knew me, would they still like me? I have a tendency to make decisions before I pray through them, which tells me that I trust my wisdom more than God’s. When I want revenge or to put someone in their place, I am doing what only God can do. When I get frustrated or angry with God, because things haven’t turned out like I planned, aren’t I believing I could have done a better job?
The truth is... I am a creature NOT the creator. I am not dependent on God, because I am a sinner. I am dependent on God, because I am a creature. He is both the author and sustainer of life. He doesn't need me nor depend on me.
We are rational, thinking, loving beings, but most importantly we are worshiping beings. We are created in the image of God, and God worships and loves Himself above anything else, thus we are created to worship and love Him more than anything else as well, but we don't. We love ourselves, and we worship other people more than we worship God. This is the cause of dysfunction in our lives, and the reason we need the blood of Christ!
You and I are born into a culture that has been utterly transformed by the Enlightenment. We often forget that we are dependent on God for creating and sustaining our lives. So we make things about our feelings and our thoughts and believe that God is here to serve us and make our lives go the way we have planned. How easy it is to forget that we are living inside of His plan, inside His created world. We exist for Him. He doesn’t exist for us. The problem is in our hearts not our heads. We don’t want to depend on someone else. Just think how irritating it is to wait in a line or sit in traffic! We are born sinful, distrusting our Creator. It is a faith issue, a love issue, a heart issue. Jesus Christ put on skin to live among us and prove to us that the love of God is good and trustworthy.
In the words of Saint Augustine, “Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.” How contrary this is to our culture, to our own methods of seeking understanding and assurance. The love of God has called us into existence. Will we walk in the darkness of independence or the freedom of dependence?