Thursday, 1 August 2013

Who You Are Is Not Yet Who You Will Be


Tony Barber, Sale of The CenturyThe Sale of The Century was one of Australia's most popular and longest running TV game shows. It featured a section called Who Am I? where contestants would have to guess the identity of someone starting with obscure facts and progressing to well known facts. But what if those facts were your facts? Could you guess the identity of the mystery person? Do you know who you are?

"To thine ownself be true" said Shakespear's Polonius in 'Hamlet'. In modern language: be yourself. Peter Sellers (aka, The Pink Panther) was to be interviewed by a TV Talk Show host.
"Who do you want me to be?" he asked the host.
"Be yourself" was the reply.
"I can't."
"Why not?"
"I don't know who I am!" said Mr Sellers.
Some people do know who they are, yet they fail to understand who they should be. They know what they like, what they're good at, what they're not good at, what motivates them, what irritates them, and whether they work like a cat or a dog. But sometimes these same people use this knowledge as an excuse for not becoming who they should be. They don't try new things. They don't keep learning. They don't ask for correction. They don't seek to improve what they're good at, let alone improve what they know they're not good at.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ
Ephesians 4:15
After a while, you can discover who you are. Your natural inclinations toward certain activities, your experiences, your training, your physical condition, your opportunities, your upbringing, your successes, your critical outlook, the type of people you attract, all help to inform you about who you are. But the danger is that this leads to the ugly practice of justifying stagnation. You may be an anti-social person. But if you follow Christ, you can not remain an anti-social person. You may be an impatient person. But if you follow Christ, you can not remain an impatient person. You may not be very academic and loathe studying. But if you follow Christ you can not remain willfully unlearnéd. Who you are is not yet who you should be.

I consider that it takes humility to become who Christ has called you to be. For some, Christ has called you to be extraordinarily successful. You will face some very humbling reactions from those around you as you fulfil this call. People will misunderstand. People will accuse you of snobbery. People will assume you are being arrogant. All these reactions require deep humility on your part. To be who Christ is calling you to be demands that you don't allow your pride to lead you to seek the acceptance of the crowd at the expense of the approval of the One.
When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.
When I Survey The Wondrous Cross, Isaac Watts
setbacks are for a reason
It is not humility that keeps people from being successful or even attaining greatness - it is nearly always pride of one form or another.We are becoming who we are designed to be. But this presents an obvious and immediate problem. If I am not yet who I am meant to be, this means that I must change. My addiction to comfort means that I am reluctant to change. Change requires being stretched to my limits. It unavoidably involves failing, which I loathe. It therefore involves some degree of humiliation, which again, I loathe. But in order to grow into the person God has ordained me to be, I must change.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 
Second Corinthians 3:18
We sometimes have "dreams" of what we want to do or be. For me, winning Wimbledon was a part of it. [Sigh] Then along come setbacks, disappointments, surprises, and we 'feel' that we are not becoming who we are designed to be. Yet, the Bible unveils an amazing mystery. God uses pain, tragedy, loss, failure, problem-people, and humiliation to carve and fashion us into into who we are called to be. God redeems what the world considers 'negative' experiences in order to accomplish something outstandingly positive in us!
¶ Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But 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 3:12-14
What keeps us from becoming who we are meant to be? Apart from a reluctance to change, we are dogged by fear. Sometimes we are unable to be honest about who we really are. We claim to be someone or something that we really are not. Added to these two hindrances is our peace-treaty with Excuses. "I'm too old to change now." "I'm just not a very tidy person." "I'm not a reader." "I'm a really shy person, I don't make friends easily." "I'm not very good at remembering names." "I just didn't get time." And so on.  As a follower of Christ we have a choice at which altar we will bow our knee: the altar of God, or the altar of Excuses. One altar summons us to change so that we can better reflect our Lord. The other altar tells us we have no need to change.

The Al Jolson movie premiere, The Jazz SingerI am becoming increasingly convinced that what Tasmania urgently needs now is for Christ's followers to show some loving leadership and demonstrate the ultimate joy that following Christ brings. This leadership involves showing what it means to honour Christ by - the way we speak, how we spend our time, relate to others, use our money, care for our families, attend church, and our means of finding peace. To do this authentically, we need to know who we really are. Some are called to lead and make decisions yet are reluctant to do so and experience misery most of the time as a result. If you've ever seen "The Al Jolson Story", you will recall that this born entertainer (at one time called "the greatest entertainer on earth") married a woman who demanded that he stay at home and never perform again. The movie shows how Jolson went into virtual depression as a result. Others are writers, or musicians, or artists, or craftsmen, yet fooling themselves into thinking that this is just a silly waste of time and so they neglect who God has made them to be. Some are pastors or preachers or worship leaders yet dismiss this call by having the wrong audience fill their vision.

God has called each of us to play our role in presenting a glorious Christ to the world. Who you are is not really about you - it's about Jesus. When you follow Christ, who you are says volumes to the world about who you think Jesus is. Are you changing into the image of Christ that God has designed for you to be? Note the key word in the previous sentence. Who are you?

Ps. Andrew

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