‘Tis the season for families to get geared up for school! The kids have grown and the fashions have changed over the last few months, which means, it’s back-to-school shopping! Now for the kids, this may seem initially fun and exciting, but for the parents, it can be a dreadful experience; How will I pay for this? Will I get something that my child will be ashamed to wear? Will they grow out of it right away? Do they really need a pair of Jordan’s? Is their iPhone 5 able to keep up with today’s socially acceptable tech demands? You can see where I’m going with this; mounting stress…for what? Identity?
This question of Identity brings me to the pinnacle of my point. In the above model, we tend to see an annual trend of finding worth and value through things that are attached to image. It hasn’t changed since I was in grade school, in fact, it may be more intense. I can recall going clothes shopping and the joy I had when I had my own Triple Fat Goose Coat. This was a big deal back-in-the-day!
It has taken decades for me to come to the realization of who and whose I am – my core reality is that I am and will always be a son of the Most High King, Jesus Christ. Now I’ve known this fact cognitively, but it hasn’t been until fairly recent that I actually believe it with my whole being. So I ask the question; why do I still let the societal pressures of the world take up space in my head and heart? It really does feel good to get a new pair of shoes and it especially makes me happy when someone notices me in those shoes, in a positive way. I like to dress nice as I know many do. It’s almost as if I can pretend to be someone else for a moment, kinda like on Halloween.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m am not advocating for a “Plain People” Movement. What I am strongly challenging myself and others is, where does my identity come from? Let me share just a few places in the Bible that remind me that I am a child of God who is fully known and loved by Him:
- “But whoever did want him [Jesus], who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten.” John 1:13 (The Message Bible)
- “Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics. Isaiah’s question, “Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?” has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:15-16 (The Message Bible)
- “You see, children loved Jesus, and they knew they didn’t need to do anything special for Jesus to love them. All they needed to do was to run into his arms. And so that’s just what they did. Well, after all the laughing and games, Jesus turned to his helpers and said, ‘No matter how big you grow, never grow up so much that you lose your child’s heart; full of trust in God. Be like these children. They are the most important in my kingdom.'” Matthew 18, 19, Mark 10 and Luke 18 (The Jesus Storybook Bible)
Plainly put, the more I know Jesus Christ, the more I will know myself. Apart from knowing God, the God of the Bible, it will be impossible to know myself. If I search for myself without looking through the lens of Christ, I will attempt to find self-worth and meaning in what I have (material possessions) and what I do on a daily basis – but at the end of the day when my head hits the pillow, I will still be searching.
My challenge is to direct you to Jesus Christ, the only One who can give you the answers your heart longs for. Hear what I am saying and take it to heart – you can either let the moving target of your friend group and what you wear shape and ascribe your meaning, or you can surrender to the reality that Jesus knows you, flaws and all and still pursues you with a love beyond comprehension. We no longer need to live in that place where popular opinion dictates who we are and I suggest that you take the time to see what the God of the universe thinks of you. Purchase a Bible, such as the easy-to-read Message Bible if you’re a teenager or an adult seeking answers. If you have a young child who is wrestling with identity issues, purchase the Jesus Storybook Bible, which clearly communicates the heart of God for His children. For roughly $10 each, you can fiscally find a foundation for your life and for the lives of your children. Now that’s back-to-school bargain shopping!!! May God be glorified (get the bragging rights)!