Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Privelege of Being Me

Over a week ago I saw a church sign that has stirred my thinking ever since (no it wasn't "What's missing in ch__ch?"!). It simply said "Be yourself; everyone else is taken." What simple but profound words.

Be yourself.


It seems like those words role easy off the tongue, but have a hard time making headway into the lives of believers in Jesus. It seems that we have settled for a version of Christianity that prefers to clone it's members rather than take the time to guide them into a discovery of their unique identity in Christ. Ironically, cloning is rampant within the Church. Many "leaders" (even with good intentions mind you) expound a "Christian" way of life that includes practices and ideas that they hold firmly as the truth, all the while conforming people to their own image instead of helping God's people to uncover the image of God already present within them. Creeds, spiritual disciplines, and systematic theologies are used as a "short-cut" to true spirituality. All the while the image of God is inside of us...

waiting to be uncovered.

A lady that I work with has introduced me to a phrase that I have grown fond of. "Christ in us, as us". What a loaded statement. What a dangerous idea. What a profound insight. Christ manifesting Himself through me in an entirely unique way. Jesus shining His light through my personality as one of many facets of Himself. This is the antithesis of group-think. This is the death of creedal servitude. This is life indeed.

Jesus living through me as me...


In the name of truth we have missed the heart of what Who truth really is. Truth cannot be summed up in 4 spiritual laws, 10 creedal statements or even 10,000 systematic theologies. It He is not so tame. Truth can only be known through relationship.

What if we let go of all of our attempts at conforming to someone elses revelation? What if we were actually able to celebrate the expression of God through someone else without feeling either insecure or defensive? What if I was actually able to enjoy being me?

I thoroughly enjoyed a good breakfast with three dear brothers in the Lord this morning. As I was reflecting back this evening on our time together I realized that whereas in the past I had felt confronted by others' experiences of Christ that differed from my own, today I went away strenghtened by koinonia with fellow members of the Body whose part to play in it differed from my own. Their stories neither threatened me nor confronted me, but rather edified me and helped foster in me a desire to be more of who I truly already am.

Instead of trying to play everyone elses part maybe I should just stick with the part I was meant to play. Maybe I just have to GET TO be me!


Steve Sensenig said...

I thoroughly enjoyed it as well, bro. And I'm glad you're you! :)

grace said...

Good words Ray! Because we are so afraid of individualism, I think we sometimes lose the value of individuality. Unity is not conformity, but rather the recognition and acceptance of the value in our differences.

Raborn Johnson said...

I sure am glad you're you too:)

Well said. I like your definition of unity. I once heard it said that if two people are just alike one of them is not necessary.

It is funny to me how we seem to get things so backwards. Ironically, believers are so afraid of individualism when it comes to ideas, beliefs and expressions of the same and yet we seem to major on a "personal" (that is individual) relationship with God which can lead to a failure to see Christ as a corporate person; a being who's greatest expression is seen in united life among believers. It seems to me that sometimes we just get things flip-flopped!

selahV said...

raborn>> What if I was actually able to enjoy being me?

I rather like thinking of me as "in Christ" and Christ in me being He so that I am no longer me but He.

I don't particularly like all the me I see. I think of the "die daily" thing.

I do appreciate your post though. I believe it is a commendation of what Paul was explaining when he talked about the body of Christ being made up of many parts, eye, ear, hand, head. All have a unique part and play an important function to the entire. What would we do without our boney elbows? Feed each other. And isn't that what being Christian is all about?

Grace be unto you and abound. selahV

Raborn Johnson said...

Thanks for stopping by!

I think that we have misunderstood for too long what it means to be "in Christ".

Many in the Church have explained being "in Christ" as ceasing to be oneself and instead letting Jesus manifest Himself through us. While this sounds like a noble goal, I believe that it is misguided.

In my opinion, being in Christ does not mean I cease to exhibit my own personality and preferences. For instance, being in Christ does not mean that I cease liking the color orange and instead prefer yellow. Rather, I believe that being in Christ leads me to display my God-given characteristics in an even fuller way.

I have seen and heard of several instances of believers trying to replicate a preacher or leader. They go beyond simply borrowing phrases to replicating mannerisms, dress, and even accents. I believe that this can be an attempt to please God, as if God were not happy with my particular makeup. If not, maybe it is an attempt to be recognized as more authoritative by other believers or the world. Either way, I believe it is hurtful rather than productive.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul says that to be in Christ is to be a new creature. From what I understand, the term "new creature" could actually be correctly translated as "a new species that has never before existed". If this is true, how could we simply duplicate what we see in someone else?

I don't think that God is in the business of cloning. Rather, I think that God is in the business of redeeming; that is, taking the fallen persons that we have become and recreating us into what He originally intended us to be. What do you think?