This week we had Jeremy Harke speak to our school on “Christ in Culture.” Looking first at the past 300 years and the evolution of western thought, and secondly at our culture today; I gained SO MUCH insight on God’s positioning in our culture both then AND now. Throughout this week several different points have really resonated with me, one in particular being- the evaluation of how we define ourselves vs. how God defines us.
Personally, I believe people today tend to define individuals by the “good” and/or the “bad” in their lives. We are constantly asking ourselves: what am I doing, and is it right or is it wrong? Are other people watching? And if not, are they gonna find out? Sometimes we are even more intrigued by what others are doing, and if we can’t be there to see it for ourselves, we sure do wanna find out. Because then, of course, we can state if we think its right, or wrong.
The big question is how do we perceive people? Or more importantly, how do we perceive ourselves?
I don’t have an answer, but I do have some personal discovery to this topic after the past two weeks.
I’d like to start by stating a pattern I found in how I, myself, typically view both others, and myself.
First, by SIN. Second, by SUCCESS.
First is sin. What even is sin? To be honest I couldn’t have given you a definition before this week. Name off a list of “sin” – yes, but literally putting a definition to it – no. Thank goodness Jeremy told us, so I could write this blog. Anyways, here it is; Sin in itself is anything that separates us from God. This idea prompting a belief that therefore, God must ‘have to’ separate Himself completely from any association with it. This meaning, that unless God has completely separated Himself from people (which He has not) God must be viewing us from a perspective that sets us fully apart from our sin.
Before this week I could have somewhat agreed, but mostly in hope- hope that God would do so, because if He didn’t I’d sure be in trouble. Yet, after all that I recently put together, combining this teaching with personal experie, I am confident in the belief that God doesn’t only “love the sinner, and hate the sin,” but further yet stands firm in His precise perspective of seeing us as complete, pure, and righteous-completely separate from any part of our lives which still abides in sinful nature.
So, that’s awesome, but does that mean God views me, instead, through the lens of my success? The good practices I practice and the number of trophies under my bed? Well shoot, I may still be in trouble…
Bringing it to a more personal level, God has been showing me that, I do easily separate myself from the sin in my life (as i’m really great at avoiding and ignoring anything bad, like ever). Yet, I still judge others by that in there’s…. It was hard to accept this, putting in context what Jeremy said. Because as I judge other for their sin I am simply placing a title on them which describes them solely by what it is which is coming between them and God. Pretty gnarly, right? Like, seriously, I’m in a school for Christ-like leadership, with a goal to bring those SAME people closer to Jesus. Doesn’t quite seem like that would work…
Prior to this teaching, our school leader spoke on “leading like Jesus.” Servant leadership has surely been a focus throughout our school; moving towards leading out of a heart of one who genuinely serves. This is one aspect, yes, but what Lisa brought on Monday, was another. Another part of “serving like Jesus” that quite frankly, I hadn’t been confronted with before; a practice which convicted me more than inspired me. Here’s a note I wrote in my journal:
Serving in a desire for higher role or a specific relationship is serving out of a selfish heart.
My eyes suddenly became more open to realize that as I am defining others by their downfalls, I am defining who I am by what I have and further could accomplish.
Besides the fact I do genuinely enjoy serving others, I do hold a strong desire for higher roles, better titles, and specific relationships. I think there’s a dynamic of reasons which prompt me to doing this, but one i’d like to share in particular.
I ask myself- do I have an urge to reach “higher success” because I am allowing others to define “value” instead of allowing God to.
A note taken from Jeremy’s teaching on ‘culture today:’ words and definitions become fluid and individualized- supplying our own context
Hence, the importance of allowing God and His world to define words (like ‘value’) before and above the people around me.
In this school we have been reading through the entire bible. With that, I have taken note to the patterns having to do with God’s value of His people in both the old and new testament. Identifying what God says about our value, and how Jesus administered to that throughout His lifetime. Right away I think to a scripture we just read, and briefly studied, in Luke. The Pharisees comment negatively to the time Jesus spends with sinners and tax collectors. Why? Because they didn’t understand a concept that many people today still can’t wrap their head around (including myself). True value only comes from God, and God values each person equally and fully; no matter what you do or don’t do.
In all of this I have been challenged to change my perspective in identifying others by sin and/or by success; because doing so it exactly contradictory to how God views them. I have been challenged to lay down my selfish ambitions to be identified as “successful”- because at the end of the day God is the only one who can define what success is. And for me, success is beginning to look more and more like serving like Jesus. Jesus not only knew His own value, but the equal and complete value of every person- according to the heart of our father in Heaven.
In all this I’ve been inspired to more specifically focus on who God says I am. The unconditional beauty He’s placed inside me, which came free, without conditions.
My God doesn’t name me by the sin in my life, but instead His image placed within me. That’s who I am.
Complete, pure, righteous.