I have a confession to make. I’m not who you think I am. In fact, I’m not who I think I am. I’m not the person I portray when I’m out in public. Some people may look at me and think, “Gee, he really has it all together.” Others may sneer (and rightly so), “He thinks he’s so great. What an arrogant fool.” The truth is, I struggle daily. Sometimes lay awake at night worrying that I’ll fall. I’ve failed many times and I continue to fail daily. I’m not always happy with myself. I hate to think that I’ve let so many people down. I’m tired of trying so hard without seeing much progress. I’m scared I’ll never see my life become what I always imagined it would be.
Yes, this is me speaking. However, these are more than just my feelings and thoughts. These thoughts belong to all of us from time to time and, surprise surprise, even to those who are followers of Jesus Christ. We are all prone to moments of doubt and weakness. We all struggle with the collision of our public and private personas making us feel exposed and vulnerable. When we find ourselves stuck in these thought patterns, we must pause and reflect on the truths God has revealed to us in His word. Only then can we look at the world and our place in it differently. So today, let us all take some time for a quick reality-check.
Reality Check #1: We Are Still Regular People.
It may seem strange we have to begin here, but the truth is that we sometimes forget: even when someone becomes a Christian, he is still just a regular person. Yes, a regular person who has been born again by the Spirit of God and whose sins are completely forgiven, but a regular person nonetheless. All of the frailties of humanity remain. This is not to say that we are not guided or strengthened by the Spirit, but to highlight the fact that Christians still deal with human problems. Sometimes, the church gives the impression that becoming a Christian is more akin to a comic book superhero than a real-life person.
We read stories about great men and women of faith and it seems impossible to live up to their examples. How can I be as brave as Polycarp or Perpetua before the roaring crowds and lions? How can I leave behind all of the comforts of life and risk everything for the sake of the Gospel like Hudson Taylor or William Carey? I will never be as smart as Calvin or Edwards and I’ll never be able to move people like Luther or Spurgeon. Yet, even these were only men and women, each with their own trials and struggles. To exalt these “heroes” of the past is to dishonor their memory. Why? Because even they would recognize there is nothing good in them apart from Christ. (Romans 7:18) They achieved nothing apart from Christ. As followers of Jesus Christ we must all remember that we are just regular people who have experienced the grace of God.
Reality Check #2: Our Identity Is Not Contingent On Others, But On Christ.
Stop it! Stop it right now! Stop acting like who you are is based on how people in this world perceive you. We put too much stock in other people’s opinions of ourselves. We think we must dress to impress. We must be likeable, funny, and charming. We must be intelligent and have a quick wit. If we don’t reach the standards we believe others have for us, then we fail. We must then change in order to please our god. Wait, what? That’s right, when our self esteem and fulfillment is contingent on anyone other than God Himself, we have made that person our new god.
The reality is that we will never live up to who others think we should be. We really don’t even live up to who we think we should be. Most importantly, we don’t live up to who God thinks we should be. However, that is the whole point of the Gospel! “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) The “all” in this passage means all. We all fall short of God’s glory and God’s standards. Our standing before God is not based on who we are or what we can achieve. No, our standing with God is based completely on the finished work of Christ on the cross. Our identity then is found in our union with Christ. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) So I will fall, I will be tempted, and I will struggle, but I’m not depending on myself. That makes all the difference. I find my worth and value in Christ alone.
Ultimate reality is not how we see the world, but how God sees the world. In a day and age when an individual can “self-identify” as whatever he or she wants, we must remember that lying to oneself will only take you so far. Yes, I’ve tried to be something that I’m not. Yes, I’ve failed at putting on a show for others. At the end of the day, however, I stand before the mirror alone and I know who I truly am. The question then is not “Will I be what the world wants me to be?” The question is, “Will I be who God is making me into? Will I trust that He knows what is best no matter how the world perceives me?” I may not be who you think I am, but I am who He thinks I am.
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ