Pastoral Notes (Sunday, May 22)

This week I boldly went where millions have already gone—I started a blog. This decision was made with more than a little reluctance, chiefly because of the time commitment and value of adding yet another voice to the blogosphere. Regardless of what I think, I chose to follow the advice and encouragement of wiser friends and pastors (and even a few of you) and make the plunge.

After Greg signed me up, because I’m essentially technologically illiterate, I visited the blog to find there was an “About Me” page where I’m supposed to write a short personal bio. My heart sunk. What a daunting task! Right off the bat I have to carefully construct an identity for the watching world. Pressure. Do not blow this! To be honest, I experience a small identity crisis each time someone asks for a brief word about me. “Good question,” I think to myself. “I was sort of hoping you might explain me to me!”

When we talk about our identity, we are talking about who we are at our core. For each one of us, there are certain descriptors we give or stories we tell about ourselves that are central to our belief about the kind of person we are. Whenever we’re forced to write a bio, a zillion different facts, experiences, interests, and relationships come to mind. And usually, if we’re honest, the glamorous pieces are included, which means the most important pieces are left out. What do I mean?

For instance, we mention the institutions we studied at and the degrees we earned, but not the name of our first grade teacher. We include the awards we won for athletic excellence, but not the moment we struck out at the plate with the bases loaded our teammates loved us through it. We include our work successes, but not our first job at the local factory where we learned the meaning of a dollar. Yes, you always mention your spouse, that’s to be expected. But not how you met them the first day of October, and how the first hint of fall, fills your heart with romantic joy.

Writing a bio. feels a lot like dissecting a frog. You cut up your life into identifiable pieces, but your life no longer lives—it’s you in a paragraph. When your carved into little manageable pieces so that someone else can “get a sense” for who you are, they only get a sense for who you want them to think you are. You include what you want, and you dispose of the rest. To be honest, the person who has the best sense for who you are is the person who changed your diapers in the nursery. Now that’s a name worthy to include on a bio!

In short, who we are is a work of Christ carried out by God’s providence. Though some aspects of our life are more deeply attached or formative than others, only one reality reigns over and informs all others—Christ. To say, “I am a Christian,” is to reach the core of who you are, and to make sense of every twist of your life. All other words you use to describe yourself find their meaning and end right there. “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal.2:20)

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