My Identity In Christ Issue #6

“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God–you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration–what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Your thoughts–how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them! I couldn’t even begin to count them– any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!” Psalm 139:13-18 Message paraphrase.
Because of the comments some of you have made concerning you identity and conflict with it, I could not pass up the Psalm for today. The writer is recounting how his/her life in the eyes of God is unique and special. Check out the first line above. The writer says that God shaped him inside (in spirit) first and then along came the physical. The impression is that God literally knew us first as people, as souls, and as uniquely individual. He shaped us inside first… who we really are and who we would eventually grow to be. More importantly, it is God who shapes us in personality and spirit. This is contrary to the many fundamentalist who say that our intrinsic person is formed by the world around us. Not so, according to the Psalmist. We are who we are prior to conception. The all knowing God has even that knowledge! Check out the 3 steps in this passage:
1. You shaped me first inside, then out
2. You watched me grow from conception to birth
3. The days of my life all prepared before I’d even live one day
Shaped, grown, and prepared! Wow, now that is a recipe. Each of us is made in the image of God special and unique to Him. He has a plan and purpose for us, even though life may be unpleasant at times. One thing the fundamentalist are right about is that the worldly pressures can affect us and how we respond to them. The difference is, we do not have to change who we are in identity and orientation in order to learn to respond correctly to those pressures. We are who we are, and we behave the way we choose to behave. Sometimes we handle life because of who we are, but more often than not, we react out of the pressure put on us, or because of the stigma society places on us. Sometimes I have chosen to respond to those pressures by trying to live up to the expectations of others in a performance driven behavior. Sometimes I have responded in ways that I thought would cause others to like me better, even though I really knew that I wasn’t being true to myself. I think Shakespeare had that one right when he said “to thy own self be true.” Jesus said it this way; in the King James the translation goes, “be ye therefore perfect as the father in heaven is perfect.” My paraphrase, based on the Peshita is this, “be the perfect You as the Father in heaven is the perfect Father.” This way makes more sense to me when I ponder the words of Psalmist. I should live to be who God shaped me to be, not as others see me or want me to be. I am the perfect me, and no one else can define that except God and me. I can learn to conduct myself toward others with that same respect and love, however.
From conception to birth, consider who’s concept is being referenced! Check out Ephesians one, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. (Message) Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved…” Eph 1:4-11 A L T. It is clear to me that it is God’s concept of who we are and not humanity, that should define us. conception then, is not just the physical event that takes place, but the eternal knowledge and awareness that God has for all his children. Can you fathom it?! He knew you before you ever came to be. It doesn’t make sense that you should become anyone else! Be the perfect you. Live each day with the knowledge that they are all planned out for you to do just that! “The days of my life all prepared before I’d even live one day” Live each and every day as those that are prepared especially for you, even if the going gets tough. When they do, ask yourself, “what is it that God wants me to earn about myself today? How can I become the perfect me.” I have found a great peace in being just me, and then responding to life out of that. Living an authentic life means to drop all the pretenses and performances. I no longer worry about what others think. I only want to be who God created me to be, and that creation took place long before I was born. I was in the heart and mind of Christ long before the foundation of the world. So were You!
It is only the sin and darkness of this world that forces people put on masks, airs, and hateful behaviors. Remember, the Gospel states that “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall MAKE you free.” John 8. Notice the word is MAKE and not set. We are not set free to stay where we are in our maturity. We are being made, and in that light, when we realize that process was in God’s mind long ago, we are free to allow the process to continue on that basis. When we are true to who we are then we can grow to become more like him, and less effected by others. There is a great new Christian Contemporary song on Third Day’s new CD, Wherever You Are, called “How do you know…”
The chorus says: “how do you know, how do you know,
what I’m supposed to be doing, Why do you go, why do you go on,
Thinking you know my fate.
So many times I’ve lost my step, but never lost my way
How do you know, how do you know, when I don’t know myself.”

God will never tell someone else something about you. He will tell you directly, if you listen. So, next time someone uses the all-knowing card over your life, you might ask them that question. You see, I believe our God knows each of us in that way, and he reveals it a little at a time to us, so that we never totally lose our way. The Psalmist has it right, no other human is meant to tell another who they should be. Every human should discover what God says uniquely to themselves, and then live out a life of truth and wisdom, as a light for others to see.
May God radicalize your life this week with love and power!

About Friar Timothy, Franciscan Urban Mission, INC.

Disciple of Jesus Christ with a Progressive Message, Author, Franciscan Friar, Musician, Social Activist, and Urban Missionary View all posts by Friar Timothy, Franciscan Urban Mission, INC.

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