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Jun

01

The opportunity finally arose, and I failed. Today, a coworker asked if my wife and I were “religious”. I balked. I blanked. I was left without an adequate response and was shamefully glad when someone else came up with a new matter and changed the focus of conversation. I blew it. A chance to share my faith and I fell flat on my face. I think if the question had been worded differently, I might have had a chance. It’s that word, religious. She didn’t say it with any specific negative connotation; but, I cringe anytime that word comes up. When someone says “religious”, I picture:

Convert or Die!

and

Follow my rules or else!

and

Look at me. I'm holy!

and even this

........

When someone says “religion”, it brings to mind (mine at least) legalistic self righteousness, condemnation, exclusion, division, and delusions of relevance. It represents the bastardization of all I hold close. It brings to mind images of pious people who “live for God” from 10:30 to Noon on Sunday, and live to edify themselves the rest of the week by letting everyone know how religious they are. You know them. They have an ichthus on the back of their car and some witty bumper sticker with a cute catch phrase that is highly visible in its irony as they flip someone off in traffic. It represents the legalistic ritualisms of Catholicism that seem so alien to those unfamiliar (and even to some of us who are [I’ll spare you my rant on the Catholic church for the time being]).

All of the above represent such a weak, lukewarm, watered-down substitute that pales in comparison to the joy my wife and I have in our walk with God. It’s so much more than that.

How then am I to profess my faith without being lumped in with all of that? Is there time enough for such a monologue in casual conversation? If there is, it escaped me when I was on the spot. I’ve been thinking about that wasted opportunity all evening. Who am I? I know who I am in God. Who am I in public? I spend so much time on trying not to be like (and therefor be associated with) the aforementioned examples that I fear I never really project a spiritual identity of my own. Is my only witness when I choose not to go out to the bar for work social functions? Is the polo shirt I have with our church’s name on it, the only way anyone would know what I believe? I need to develop my spiritual identity. Who am I?

Who am I?

In what do I believe?

“Well I believe in second chances
I believe the world is gonna end
But I would do anything to set the record straight ” – Mike Herrera

So let’s set it straight.

I believe in the omnipotent, all powerful God of the Bible; the God of Isaac, Jacob, and Abraham.

I am a follower of Christ. I believe He is the only son of God, fully God and fully man. I believe he led a perfect life, was crucified, and raised the third day, and in the process bore the consequences of my sin. By His stripes I am healed, and in His death, I have eternal life. I believe He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is no other way to God, but through Jesus Christ.

I believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God. If it is in the Bible, it is true. Conversely, I believe that the Bible closes with:

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.

And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

I believe this to be the end of the divine word of God. Anything written thereafter, I consider to be the work of man, whose motives are always suspect.

Here’s what I don’t believe. I do not consider myself “better” than anyone else. I’m just as screwed up as anyone else, if not more so. I’m a filthy fallible sinner, and I always will be. It is by God’s grace that I am saved. I can do nothing on my own but fall short of the standard.

I also believe that this has taken a lot longer to write than I expected.

I believe my wife is missing me right about now.

I believe she’s probably mad.

I believe I should go now.

If this has offended anyone, I regret it not.

“Like Father always said, and I can only agree
Son they will hate you because they always hated Me” – Andrew Schwab

One Comment to “The importance of identity”

  1. Graham Page Says:

    Came across your site when searching for Gary Larson adn was arrested by the post regarding your being asked if you were religious. Wow. I know that question is a loaded one. In America, the word religious or religion is not what it was meant to be. I think of the James passage where it states the religion that God accepts that is “pure and faultless” is to look after the orphans and widows in distress and to keep from being polluted by the world. Thankfully we live under grace as I know that I fall down constantly and can be so grace-less.

    I recently read Philip Yancey’s book, “Waht’s So Amazing About Grace” and it is a powerful reminder that we as Christians are to be presenting to the world God’s grace.
    Be Blessed,
    Graham

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