Monday, January 30, 2012

Delighting in Anonymity for the Sake of Christ

That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, "It is the Lord!"

Unlike other gospel authors, apostle John chose anonymity rather than identifying himself by name.  Referring to himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loves" wasn't just an act of humility but also of one of delightful endearment.   John was celebrating the essence of his identity - the simple fact that Jesus loved him.

Too often I can end up locating my identity in all the wrong places

Sometimes I will locate my identity in personal performance - "top performer", "great father", "loving husband", etc...  It's about how well I'm doing in all the roles I play.

On other occasions, my identity is found in my position - "project leader", "senior executive", "doctor", etc..

Often, the opinions and perceptions of others can form the basis of my identity - "respected", "wise", "smart", etc...

The problem is that all these pose a no-win scenario.  For I find myself crushed emotionally when I do poorly, when I fail to live up to my own performance or when I fall short of what others may think of me.   In those occasions, I'm often despondent and discouraged.

Even worse than a poor showing is a good one.   Should I do well even for a brief season, it only serves to reinforce my misplaced identity, trapping me in an ever tightening grip.

My hope is to do as John did - to pursue anonymity for the sake of a better delight - to be known and loved by Christ.    When stories that intersect our lives unfold, whether at work or in other spheres of life,  how would you seek to be known and remembered?   Would you be satisfied simply to be known as one whom Jesus loved?

Monday, January 02, 2012

Starting the New Year with a New Attitude

"The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year.  It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose, new feet, a new backbone, new ears and new eyes.... Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective"

GK Chesterton

If you're looking for a helpful bible passage to start the New Year, you might consider this excerpt from Philippians 3:

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.   Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."

Philippians 3:7-8

Paul's claim from this passage both challenges my soul and refreshes me as I start a New Year.   Paul's reference of "gain" speaks to his heritage, his place of honor, perhaps even his very identity - everything that contributed to a sense of his own righteousness before God..   All of which he counted as loss for the sake of knowing Christ.   Knowing Jesus Christ - it's a pursuit so rich and fulfilling that it warrants our setting aside of all counterfeits that might steal our attention away from this holy pursuit.

I'm provoked to look upon my life for vestiges of boasting in my own achievements - the very elements of my life that bring me respectability and honor - the ones that can so easily rob me of my dependence in God.   I pray for the echo of Paul's words to power my life for this New Year.  May I take no confidence in my gifts, abilities, intellect or skills.  May I neither seek, nor rest upon the praise of men..   Instead, may I draw my identity and worth from Jesus Christ - from the fact that I know Him and am known by Him.

"Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own,   Bur one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 3: 13

I'm just starting out, I'm not there yet but I plan on pressing on.