Identity: everything grows and flows from there.

Do you focus on your main priorities, or your primary identity?

Kari writes:

How many times have we been asked to do the exercise?

List out your priorities as you want them to be … Of course we’re supposed to put God first, then family second, or wait, maybe we’re supposed to put ourselves first, but then what about our spouse, and then work is a must so where does that fit in? I’ll tell you what:

 

No matter how many times I’ve listed out my priorities it’s never revolutionized my life. 

Here’s what’s revolutionized my life:

 

Understanding that it’s not knowing my primary priority that matters but knowing my primary identity. 

 

We do what we do because we are who we are.

What gave rise to this thought? Galatians 5:25:

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

 

A conclusion:

What if I look at my to-do list with that in mind? Keeping in mind that everything that I do I do as a disciple of Jesus Christ, called to fulfill His great commission and be His ambassador here on earth?

 

No where in Scripture are we called to find balance. Our notion of “finding balance” is cultural. Christ calls us to take our whole life — work, play, service, both sacred and secular — and drench it in the water of His Spirit so that as we move about this world we’re soaking wet, dripping all over the world, spreading the gospel not because we’re handing out tracts but because we’re handing out hope.

 

We’re kind, patient, loving, gentle … our life displays the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24).

 

What is our identity? Are we citizens of earth or citizens of heaven? Our identity determines how we live. We can walk in step with the world, running to keep up with the passing pleasures of each new year, or we can walk in step with the spirit, knowing that in His presence is fullness of joy.

{Grateful for my wise, gracious wife. Thanks, Kari!}

Photo by See Margaret

Preservers of the world

Below is a description of the early Christian community (c. AD 130), written to a political leader or other authority figure in the Roman Empire, named Diognetus. The author writes in hopes of communicating the truth about Christianity and thereby gaining clemency for Christians under persecution:

“… [The Christians] display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life.”

“They dwell in their own countries, but only as aliens [1 Pet 2:11]. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as a their native land, and every land of their birth is as a foreign land to them.”

“The soul is imprisoned in the body, and yet preserves that very body; while Christians are confined in the world as in a prison, and yet they are preservers of the world.”

— Found in Invitation to Christian Spirituality: An Ecumenical Anthology, John R. Tyson, ed., pp. 58-60. Cited as “The Epistle to Diognetus,” in Roberts and Donaldson, eds., TANF, Vol. I, ch. 5-6, pp. 26-27.

Thoughts:

Christians who know this identity in Christ (as foreigners, aliens and sojourners, yet having a heavenly home) will have an identity in the world — being fully present and loving to those around them. They know where they belong because they know to Whom they belong. The imperatives (commands) of the Christian life are rooted in the prior work of God, which is the engine that propels us forward. I found myself rejoicing not so much in a prescription for how to live but a description of how in Christ we can be in His world. Amazing enabling grace!

Earlier in the letter the author states the plain truth of how believing in Christ inevitably makes one the best citizens around [he’s an objective observer] — Christians dwell, share, endure, marry, beget children, obey, love, etc. (Most striking to me is the absence of modifying clauses like “should,” which would give an out to the weak Christians. The writer gives no fancy to a concept of a hypocritical life. The absence of this passive language is more my fault than his, for we have come to accept wishy washy nominalism for self-described Christians.)

The message is embodied in such a way that the people’s lives demand a Gospel explanation. In effect he is giving a gospel explanation as he tells the what and the why of how Christians (are to) see ourselves in this world. I felt like I was reading a summary of the implications of Romans 12 (humility before God, the church family, and outsiders in the world). He ended in stating plainly “Christians love those who hate them,” which lept off the page to me. We are not merely okay will be accepting or neutral towards those who harbor anomosity towards us (noting they themselves may not totally realize why they do so as agents under the sway of the Evil One). How true that as we move upward we are compelled to move outward, missionaries of love like the true Missionary God who loved His enemies (us) and gave Himself for our sake.

Are you a preserver of the world around you? In what way? Get close, step into the mess, be all there.