“Thou art not more holy, though thou be commended; nor the more worthless, though thou be found fault with. What thou art, that thou art; neither by words canst thou be made greater, than what thou art in the sight of God. If thou consider what thou art within thee, thou wilt not care what men talk of thee. Man looketh on the countenence, but God on the heart. Man considereth the deeds, but God weigheth the intentions.” – Thomas a Kempis
Hello, my name is Travis Harmon, and it’s very nice to meet you.
When this type of formal introduction happens, there’s usually a rush of judgments going on in the minds of the newly introduced. People are either respected or red-flagged depending on their body size, clothing style, facial hair, tattoos, or lack thereof. We superficially pinpoint traits that we’ve predetermined our own attitudes about. This is called prejudice, but our appearances do not necessarily define us.
On September 11, 2001, our country experienced one of the most horrific event of our history. With thousands of lives lost, our country stood together to reunite and rebuild amidst the destruction. The event was catastrophic, but it didn’t define us. Our problems don’t define us.
I was recently approached by a church that asked me to interview for a job. The only requirement they had given me was to verify that I was a proud member of their denomination. I believe we lose God’s bigger picture of the church when we seclude ourselves to these titles. I believe our theology is an important part of who we are, but I quickly realized that my denomination doesn’t define me.
I bought my car many years ago while I was in college. I bought the car with a cracked headlight. I decided that I would protest our culture’s warped sense of cultural pressure to define ourselves by our automobiles. I’ve never paid the fifteen dollars to have it fixed. I made a promise to myself that I would drive the ‘Tank’ until it would no longer run. More than 10 years later, I still can’t kill it. However, my car doesn’t define me.
A friend recently expressed the hurt he had felt over a pastor addressing him as an ex-convict. As a Christian, an incredibly talented musician, a tender hearted husband, father and friend, he rightfully struggled to be identified by his past mistakes. We live with the consequences of our past sins, but our past sins don’t define us.
Our problems don’t define us. Our denominations don’t define us. Our transportation doesn’t define us. Our past failures don’t define us. Our skin color doesn’t define us. Our homes don’t define us. Our neighborhoods don’t define us. Our family doesn’t define us. You can learn a lot about a person by the friends they have, but even still our friends don’t define us. Our jobs don’t define us. Our bank accounts don’t define us. Our trophies don’t define us. Our possessions will never define us.
I recently read that ‘we are spiritual beings having a human experience.’ When we allow material possessions to define us, we lose sight of the ultimate purpose of our humanity. When our lives are completely focused on our humanity, we lose sight of the spiritual life we were created to exercise. When we allow ourselves to be defined by our past failures we deny God’s ability to continue to script our future! When we allow ourselves to be defined by anyone other than ourselves, we enslave ourselves inside the prison of identity crisis.
Stop letting your car identify you. Stop feeling inadequate if your house isn’t featured on MTV cribs. Stop working for your bank account. Learn to make your bank account work for you. Stop letting your past mistakes define you. Today is a new opportunity to fix the brokenness of the past. No matter where you may find yourself today, in a jail cell or in your subdivision, realize that God’s purpose for your life is to use all of the physical things we have to serve Him spiritually. Even our struggles. Find a new identity today in Christ!
1 Peter chapter 2 further explains our dilemma. In one verse it says “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.” It’s time we realize who we are in Christ, and stop being hindered by things that only slow us down in our chase for the purpose of the cross. It’s time we begin to live Philippians 2:5 and let our attitude reflect our faith, and not our ______________.