Archive for June, 2016

Stripped Away

June 10th, 2016

It’s no secret that the majority of my inner struggles in my life have stemmed from insecurity. Even in my earliest experiences with being judged and criticized for my stature and appearance in middle school, it was plain to me that I had a poor self-image. So it’s no surprise that, when I began submitting […]

 

It’s no secret that the majority of my inner struggles in my life have stemmed from insecurity. Even in my earliest experiences with being judged and criticized for my stature and appearance in middle school, it was plain to me that I had a poor self-image.

So it’s no surprise that, when I began submitting my life to Christ’s authority near the end of my high school season, I brought to Him my brokenness and asked for freedom, redemption, and the ability to see myself the way He sees me. To find my whole identity in Him. I was on a positive self-image mission…which has been a beneficial process! But there is this one thing.

This path I’ve taken to seek Christ’s truth in how I view myself does not end where I thought it would. And it’s probably not over yet. It actually has far less to do with my “self” than I ever thought.

I still have complete awareness of my imperfections and I still see all that I’m not…and I do have more gratitude for all that I am, peace about it in light of my confidence in who Christ is, and who God says I am. BUT. I am also learning that having a positive self image is not God’s end goal. The end goal is about reflecting Christ’s image. Not mine.

Lately I have found myself facing one test after another, and I have a mental picture that has been stuck in my mind to help me see what is happening. Up to this point, I have chosen the narrow way. The way through the narrow gate  of following Christ. And, right now, it is as if I’ve been entering a series of tight narrow tunnels along this narrow way, and I cannot bring with me all that I intended to bring. And so the choice is mine each time I am presented with a new narrow tunnel along the way.

Whose image do I want to push through? Both will not fit. Whose image do I want to Protect? Proclaim? Profess? Proceed with? Flesh or spirit? My image, my reputation, my my my? Or His? God’s Word says we cannot do both.

Galatians 5:16-17 (ESV) Keep in Step with the Spirit  

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Part of this in my case of various forms of insecurity has been learning to confront the hesitation of  “why in the world would I want to serve in ministry in a public way where people will see every mistake I make?” Perhaps it’s to remind me that it’s not about preserving my image, but about promoting the truth and hope of Christ, working His image and character into my heart through serving, and growing through experiences both successful and challenging to shape my heart like His and show others what a work-in-progress for Christ looks like so that they might be bold enough to step out too.

And part of this has been learning to ask myself – “when someone offends me personally, does it matter?” My normal response would be to defend myself, my character, what is “fair”, and my cause…but would my normal response burn a bridge for them to see the love and truth of Christ in me? If it is not kingdom essential (meaning if it is just me alone they are insulting, belittling, criticizing, undermining, or disrespecting only and not involving injustice to another or an attack on God’s truth) , it is not worth taking up my cause at the expense of the cause of the kingdom. I am learning it is best to respond in love and kindness despite my offenses so that maybe the love and truth of Christ may still shine through and be exalted and made known to my offender. There is a right and wrong time to turn the other cheek and pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:29), to “tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecc. 3:7) The Bible talks about being ready to give an answer to what you believe  and standing up for the oppressed and needy, but time and time again it tells us to seek peace, pursue what builds up others, and leave vengeance to God when it comes to personal offenses. Boy this is new to me. And so challenging. Why is it this way? Perhaps to keep us focussed on what is most important. Perhaps it is because we can win a battle in defending our names and lose the war in participating in the great commission of winning souls for God’s Kingdom.

I don’t know if you’ve been in this place, where you constantly have to choose “self or Christ?” And answer “Who are you seeking to magnify in your actions?”…but I feel like it’s been a peeling process. Stripping off the old self, and walking in the new. Because there is only room for one if we are to walk along narrow way to which we’ve been called.

Old and new self

This reflection I’ve been having brings me to Ephesians 4, which is worth reading and proclaiming to ourselves over and over! Each day, possibly multiple times a day, we must choose – who are we ambassadors for? For whose cause are we filtering everything else through today? If we are filtering everything through a self-preservation lens, our responses will be quite often very different from a Christ-and-Kingdom-centered lens. And our response determines our reach (Lysa TerKeurst). So may we choose well today,tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…and walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1)…because things done to the glory of God for the kingdom have an eternal weight and glory!

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