Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Owned by Love

One of the first piles of stuff I sorted through was labeled Identity. Identity, to me, is simply what I believe about myself, which then influences how I act. I believe I am a man, so I dress like one. I'm a grownup, so I don't play GI Joe anymore. I believe I can fix stuff, so I worked on and repaired our washing machine last night. All of these beliefs affect what I do. The thing about identity, however, is that it can be based on falsehood and not truth. Truth says I am a grownup man that can fix things. Falsehood wants to call each of those things into question. The choice is up to me of what I want to believe. So over the years, I've been handed ideas about identity that I stowed away among all my belongings. I've been told I am a sinner, just a sinner, with a wicked heart that cannot be trusted, that I am prone to wander, that I am one sin away from adultery, divorce and spiritual suicide. Reinforced were names like Mess and Needy. Men's retreats reminded me that I just don't get it, that our wives just put up with us and that the key to marital harmony is to go home after work and sweep more floors, change more diapers, and take out more trash. In college, we were told that out of a group of 50, only 5 of us would be walking with God in ten years. What was the purpose of that? It only created fear and reinforced the identity that I will most likely be one of the 45. I could give you chapter and verse for all of these concepts, because I found them cross-referenced and labeled in the pile of stuff. But there, underneath all, buried deep down, was a gem that I will never let go of. The gem is stated this way. "For by what a man is overcome, by this is he enslaved." The context of this is negative. If a man is overcome by evil, he is enslaved to evil. If he is overcome by lust, lies or the idea that he is one sin away from spiritual oblivion, he is enslaved to those things. They will lord over him. But if this is true, wouldn't the converse also be true? If a man is overcome by Good, would he not, in turn, be enslaved to good? If the Beauty of God has overcome a man, would he not be enslaved to that beauty? to be continued...

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