Monday, January 13, 2014

Becoming Who We Are

“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12)

Living a spiritual life is about becoming who we already are. Our destiny is to realize and fulfill our place and purpose as children of God. According to John’s Gospel, Christ followers discover the power to become who they are by “believing in the name” of the one who is light and life, the Word made flesh, full of grace and truth.

Christian believing is never simply about assenting to doctrine, it’s about trust in and faithfulness to the way of Jesus. As we embody the way of Jesus, as we experience and express in our lives and relationships the light and life, the grace and truth that Jesus is, we become who we are. This is the Christian path toward becoming who we are. There are other paths, but this is ours.

John’s Gospel says that from the fullness of the Word made flesh we have received “grace upon grace,” or “grace in exchange for grace” (perhaps a better translation). Like a child dipping his sand bucket into the ocean, there is no chance of it drying up. The reservoir of divine grace is endless. Our part is to tap into and draw from that divine source.

According to a Greek legend, Helen of Troy was kidnapped and whisked across the seas to a distant city where she suffered from amnesia. In time she escaped from her captors and became a prostitute on the streets. Back in her homeland, her friends refused to give up on her. 

One admiring adventurer who never lost faith set out on a journey to find her and bring her back. One day as he was wandering through the streets of a strange city he came across a prostitute who looked strangely familiar. When asked she responded with a name that he didn’t know. Then he asked if he could see her hands. He knew the lines of Helen’s hands.

When he looked at her hands and realized who it was he exclaimed, “You are Helen! You are Helen of Troy!” “Helen” she whispered. When she spoke her name, her true name, the fog began to clear and a sense of recognition registered on her face. She discovered her lost self. Immediately she discarded her old clothes and old life and became the queen she was called to be.

When it dawns upon our consciousness who we really are in our true self, then we can begin the process of putting off our old clothes and putting on some new ones. We can embark upon the journey of discovering our true self and becoming who we are.

Claiming our chosenness, becoming who we are, means that we refuse to allow anyone else—family, friends, co-workers, no one—to define and determine who we are. We may need to remind ourselves of who we are every day or maybe even every hour. This means listening to the Spirit’s voice and being in touch with our deepest and truest self.

The more we become who we are, the less calculating and self-serving we become. Becoming who we are requires us to make something other than ourselves the center of our lives. No longer are we driven by a need to compare and compete for worthiness. Keeping score becomes pointless.

We become more inclusive. Because our chosenness is rooted in divine love and grace, the realization of our chosenness leads to our awareness that everyone else is chosen too. We realize that everyone is unique and has eternal value, that we are all connected, we all belong, we are all part of the beautiful mosaic God is creating.

The more we realize that we have been blessed “with every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1:3), the more we want to help others discover their blessedness also. So we intentionally and deliberately look for ways to bless others and help other see how loved and special they are.

Becoming who we are means that we want to be like Jesus in the ways he crossed borders, broke down boundaries, and included people rejected by those in authority. The more we become who we are, the more we will see others through the eyes of Christ and embrace them with the love of Christ.


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