Monday, September 6, 2010

We Are Called to Be Ourselves

A couple days ago, an acquaintance of mine came up to me and said "I need to talk with you about Christianity." Of course, me being how I am said 'absolutely' and followed them to a quieter place to discuss it. And the conversation went something like this:

"I hear so much about 'becoming more like Jesus' and taking on the characteristics of the Savior from so many Christians. Yet, I am not looking for that. I am not looking for becoming somebody or taking on characteristics of someone else. I have tried that so many times throughout my years and it has never made me happier or more satisfied. Yet, Christian's claim that taking on the characteristics of someone else, this one person, is supposed to fill me up? I really don't get it. I don't want to become someone; I want to be who I am and stay that way."

"I see what you are saying, but I think you have it all wrong. God isn't asking you to change who you are; God is asking you to follow Him. Jesus isn't looking for a duplicate of Himself; Jesus is looking for someone who is willing to follow Him in achieving the same purpose in life. Sometimes people make Christianity more into a religion than the relationship it actually is. Religion demands you change; relationship gives new direction."

"Okay, so am I actually supposed to change?"

"No, you are not supposed to change. In fact, you cannot make yourself change. The change happens as the Lord shapes your life around His purpose."

While there was more to that specific conversation, this little bit started me thinking. I find so many Christians who are seeking change and cloaking themselves with rigorous schedules or enhanced knowledge simply to get further towards that change. Sometimes we naturally begin to equate 'becoming more like Christ' to 'changing who we are.' We make Christianity a religion rather than a relationship. We create expectations for ourselves that cannot be achieved by ourselves. And we deceive ourselves into thinking that God will help us achieve what we have now set out to accomplish.

Let me explain it this way: come to the Lord as you are, with the characteristics that you already possess, and continue to possess those characteristics throughout your relationship with Him. God is not going to strip the characteristics you already have in order to make you a brand new person, but He is going to give you a new purpose for which you are to use those characteristics for. Before you were brought into His grace, the purpose by which you lived your life by amounted to nothing other than self-fulfillment and sin. But, upon entering into a covenant with Christ, the purpose by which you live your life becomes one of glorifying Him and being a light to Him. Those same qualities you possessed before are the same that you possess afterwards. However, the purpose with which you implicate those characteristics and the goals in which you strive to achieve through utilizing those qualities changes.

If you are naturally sacrificial in nature, then you will continue to be sacrificial, but to a different end. If you are naturally an introvert, then you will continue to be an introvert but to a different purpose. If you are naturally a talker, then you will continue to be a talker but to a different message. If you are naturally a wood-worker, then you will continue to be a wood-worker but to a different result. Your identity and who you are will never be lost; they will be redefined. You can be your complete and total self with the Lord, but do not expect to stay the same throughout the relationship. God loves to let His light change people by the way of making each and every one of their individual characteristics be a magnetic to Him.

I know in my life I run across people who have completely different qualities and beliefs on certain issues than I do; they have different strengths or outlooks. Too often a time have I looked at their qualities and coveted them because I think they are better or more developed than mine are. Recently, I have begun to fully realize that if I took on their qualities, I would lose my identity and end up pursuing another identity. When we are walking with Christ, we do not lose our identity; we give it a new focus. My tendency to give up my life for another without hesitation is a gift from God that I can pursue all for His glory. Another person may view my attitude as reckless and that view can be used for the glory of God as well. We are not all to become clones to one another; we are to provide balance to one another.

That is why the body of Christ, the church, is so important; that is why fellowship is so important. Where others go one way, there is always someone else who goes the opposite way. And we need those people to occasionally knock sense into us and realize that we may not be using our qualities to the glory of the Lord as much as we think we are. The whole message of Christianity is not to change into another person but rather to let the relationship with the Lord of Heaven and Earth change the ideals that we so desperately pursue, to change the direction we are headed. So, we may all take comfort in the fact that we are not called to be someone else; that is religion. Instead, we are called to pursue something else; that is relationship.


  1. I like to put it this way: the closer I get to Christ the more I become the person I was created to be.

    While I agree with you about characteristics such as personality traits, a lot of the time those can be tied to sin and do need to change. For example, shyness is often seen as a personality trait, when most often it is a fear of people. In the Bible God clearly states we are not to fear people. Another example is self-consciousness, something I struggle with, which at its root is pride and needs to be changed to Christ-consciousness. It appears to me that God *does* call us away from characteristics we tend to identify with ourselves when they are connected to sin. But that isn't really calling us away from ourselves, because we were created to be separate from sin, so separating from those things really brings us closer to who we were "destined" to be and in the long run is quite satisfying.

    I would caution you on this part: "The whole message of Christianity is not to change into another person but rather to let the relationship with the Lord of Heaven and Earth change the ideals that we so desperately pursue, to change the direction we are headed."

    I'm sure you know the passage I'm about to bring up: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come." As well as all the verses where Jesus talks about the importance of being born's like a new life. The Gospel is a message of transformation, not merely of choosing to go a different direction in life.

  2. Dear Heidi,

    Thank you so much for bringing that aspect of it all to light. Just so you know, I do entirely agree with what you have said, and my post had no intention of discrediting what the Lord will do to transform a person. But, sometimes, hearts long for solitude or long for conversation... either way, those longings are probably not going to change. When I say that we are given a new direction for our personality traits, I mean just that. The sinful pursuits of those traits will be slowing abolished through the process of sanctification. And while Christ does make us a new creation, He does not completely destroy what He has already created and shaped within us, as far as our personality goes. Christ comes into our lives and makes us a new creation by taking the bondage of sin and its consequences from our lives. Our characteristics will not be entirely diminished but rather will be shaped and used for His glory.

    I hope that you are not misunderstanding what I am saying here, and I hope you do not get the idea that I am discrediting Christ's new and magnificent work within us upon believing. But, I do stay firm on the idea that we are not to pursue something we are not. We are to take what we are and pursue Christ with how we were made and become the best version of ourselves, as you have said. :)

    Hannah Marie

  3. Found your blog on The Rebelution. :) I'm enjoying what I've read so far. ^^ Keep writing for the Lord!