“Hi, I’m an Apple.”

Almost everyone remembers those “Apple vs PC” commercials from a couple years ago.  They featured a cool, hip, young guy as an Apple computer and an uptight, all-business, old guy as the PC.  When I made the switch to Apple back in 2007, I thought of myself as that image of a Mac user.

Everything else took a back seat.

A few years ago, a friend at church said off-handedly that when he thought of me he thought of an Apple fanboy who knew a lot about computers.  This gnawed at me because, moments earlier, we had been discussing our identity in Christ.  What I was hoping he would say was “church leader” or “Christ-follower”; at the very least, “Christian” had to make an appearance in that description, right?  It was at that moment that I realized that my outward expression of faith had become clouded somehow – it wasn’t on purpose by any means but I was not as clear with what I believed as I had originally thought.  I had proudly claimed to be a “geek” for awhile but it seemed that that particular title had supplanted “Christian” in my friends eyes.

Changing gears: I have talked to many Christians over the years who are homosexual and the most common title those individuals placed on themselves is that of a “Gay Christian”.  Every theological idea or cultural opinion is colored by their sexual orientation and place in society; their identity did not seem to be found in Christ but in what they decided was truly important.  I believe it says a lot about your priorities when you define yourself as a “______ Christian” (or “Christian ______”).  Substitute anything in there and it still applies: feminist, vegan, athlete, filmmaker, musician, etc.

Let me be clear: this post is not meant to be about the morality or scriptural support/condemnation of homosexuality.  I’m merely using this as an example as I feel it will be understood by the broadest number of readers.  If you are interested in that topic, I suggest checking out the Christian Ethics book I mentioned in a previous post.

The title of “Gay Christian” has a tremendous amount of cultural baggage; many who practice homosexuality define themselves by that one aspect of their lives – the problem with defining yourself like that is that if you have already found what defines you – be it sports, tech, entertainment, gender, or sexual orientation – is there room for anything else?  It doesn’t seem like it.

I often say I’m a geek; it describes the social practices that I most often partake in (gaming, movies, comics, legos, etc).  However, I am more aware now than I was a few years ago that it is incredibly easy to lose focus and let our other pursuits overtake what should be #1.  No matter where you are in life, remember this one truth: There is nothing as important as Jesus.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:1-3

So, just to clear up any misconceptions, let me redefine myself for you: I am a Christian; a “little-Christ” who has made a commitment to follow Jesus, the son of God and Savior of the world, and am striving everyday to serve him with my life.  I love my wife and I like technology, movies, and disc golf but none of those things define me in as big a way as being a Christian.

What are you defined by?

“I’m not the shoes I wear; I’m not the clothes I buy; I’m not I house I live in; I’m not the car I drive.  I’m not the job I work; You can’t define my worth by nothing on God’s green earth; My identity is found in Christ.” – Lecrae

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One thought on “Spiritual Growth: Identity

  1. Dear Jared,
    I so appreciate your words. You bring up a good discussion and make a very true point. The deepest aspect of our being is how we relate to God, through Jesus. Any other descriptor on its own is incomplete.
    That said, I would develop your thought in this way.
    There are aspects of our beings that are so deep and intrinsic as to be unchanging and irremovable. Not things like what career we work, what sports we like, political values, or even theological distinctions. I’m speaking of things that are not behavior and not conscious choice.
    For example…
    You, my dear friend, will never experience God except as a male, which is quite different than experiencing God as a female.
    As long as you live in America, you will only experience God as one who has White skin privilege.
    You will experience God as a straight man married to a straight woman for as long as you both shall live.
    I pray you will never experience God as one with a terminal and/or debilitating illness.
    Family history and shaping events are less intrinsic, but still impossible to undo, although they can be overcome.
    My point is to agree with the Apostle Paul, that we see through a glass darkly, part of that glass being aspects of ourselves that we cannot control but still live through every day. To identify ourselves as Christian and these things, I believe, does not diminish the importance of Christ in our lives. Rather, it allows us to acknowledge the limits we have in understanding God.
    When I identify myself using factors other than Christ, I am not saying that any of those factors are primary or complete in and of themselves. What I am doing is acknowledging those things that will most effect how I understand and experience God. Take it as a disclaimer if you will.
    If we acknowledge our own biases/darknesses/intrinsic aspects, then we can acknowledge the same things in other people. We can recognize the limits to how we see God, the limits to how the other person sees God, and how we can complete the picture for each other. We can have grace and compassion for other people and be quick to seek their forgiveness when we lose sight of Christ in our own limits.
    Christ is certainly central to our being, nothing shapes a person deeper than how they relate to God. But God in His gracious creativity has allowed each of us a different experience of Himself, a different perspective, and a different experience of grace. To ignore those distinctions would be to deprive ourselves of the fullest understanding of grace that is possible.

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