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How do you define yourself? How do others define you? You are not going to escape being defined, if you try we will say, “there goes X, you know the one that avoids defining.” and you will be defined by that, by a lack of definition. Most people do not seek to avoid definition, instead they live for it. I am a teacher, a preacher, a truck driver, they define themselves by their profession. I am a Libertarian, a Democrat, a Republican, defining by politics. I am a Christian, a Jew, an Atheist, definition by belief system [yes atheist is a belief system]. Today a great division of definition exists where we define ourselves by our sexuality, straight, homosexual, transgender, or bi-sexual.
We use words to define ourselves, and the meaning of words change over time in light of the culture. When it was said in the 1500’s the church is an awful place, we meant it was a place filled with awe, now the same statement has a much different meaning. Had I lived 100 years ago I might have described myself as Gay, [usually] , but that statement today would be very misleading. I can not call myself pro-choice, even though I believe greatly in personal freedom, because that term now means something I stand against.
I remember in college, after my conversion to Christ, receiving the yearly placement card I had filled out as an underclassman. In the block that was used to define religious affiliation I had marked atheist. Reading it now was a slap in the face that brought me to my knees once again in repentance. The other choices were ‘Jewish’, that would not work, ‘Catholic’, I did not fit in there even though I tried, ‘Protestant’, I could think of nothing to protest, and ‘Other’. I checked ‘Other’, and wrote in “Christian”. I was a bit upset when it came back to me, Catholic. I tried again, and it came back Protestant. I hand carried it into the registrar’s office and sought satisfaction. “Surely, you have heard of this religion, there are millions of us!” I said in my young adult indignity, “Yes we have”, was the answer, “But Christians are either’ Protestant’ or’ Catholic'”. I still have a problem with this.
These days the church has defined itself to a ridiculous degree. There are Calvinists, Neo-Calvinists, Amillers, dispy’s, Fundamentalists, and more flavors then Baskin -Robbins. I have grown to use Tim Keller’s definition to describe my faith, Orthodox Christian, it works well. The danger of such description is that it may lead to, and does lead to division of the Church. the one invisible catholic [little c] universal Church is wracked with definition to the point of absurdity.
Defining the self is quite an industry. We have whole sections of this at the book store, are you a Capricorn? A type A personality? A Seeker? A Clear? An entrepreneur? The bumper sticker industry thrives on our desire to define ourselves, and others. Emblems for cars define us to the world, will you have your fish symbol with or without legs? Are you a scuba diver, or do you still have Kerry 04 on the bumper. Our cars define us too, a Hummer2 vs a Subaru, a Ford 250 diesel dually, verses a Hybrid. Working in Real Estate taught me a lot about self definition, some seek a home, other seek a badge of achievement.
I have defined in myself many ways over the years.
- Scuba diver
- Scholarship winner
- Judo player
- Judo coach
- Adjunct Instructor
- Fire Chief
- Sales Man
- Loan Officer
I have learned to define myself from a biblical world view, but that has many differing categories , some that change form time to time, some that are the most constant foundation stones in my life.
- Sinner saved by God’s Grace
- Under Rower
- Under Shepard
- Clay on the Potter’s wheel
Definitions are important, they enable us to see ourselves , give us focus and meaning, but they can also limit and diminish. I want to be defined by Jesus,” Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” and again ,”Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.“
I want to be light, I want to be salt, and by the power of the Holy Spirit it is my desire that God will use me to season, preserve, heal, melt, give flavor, and show the Way of Christ to a lost world. I want to meet my Savior and be defined by Him in this way, “Well done, good and faithful servant” Is there a more glorious definition? A servant who has been both good and Faithful?
May we all meet at the Throne and hear those words from His Holy Lips.
What definition or combination of definitions do you use, or would you use to describe yourself?
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