Identity and Faith

Identity and Faith

Thursday, 3 May 2018  | Brad - Middle School Coordinator

This past weekend I celebrated my 37th birthday. It was a great weekend spent with family and friends, and everything I could have wanted from my birthday
(…well, it would have been nice if North Melbourne could have gotten up for a win, but one can’t have everything!).

More and more, I have started to notice that I hear variations on a similar theme when people discover my age: “Oh, 40 isn’t far away now!” This is true, 40 is indeed approaching, but it doesn’t concern me a great deal, and here’s why. I turned 30 during my first year of teaching and I freaked out for about 6 months. Seriously, freaked out. The prospect of 30 seemed terrifying, like I was formally farewelling my youth. It took me quite some time to process why I’d responded like this and I realised that I’d always identified myself as a young person. It was part of the way I saw myself, a key part of my identity, something in which I had placed my faith. I had trouble reconciling it because it felt like I was losing a part of who I was.

It can be easy to think that if someone isn’t a Christian, or doesn’t identify as following a particular religion, then they don’t have faith. However, everyone believes in something. Everyone places his or her faith in something. For some, their faith is placed in the things they own - their belongings, their possessions. Their sense of self-worth is tied up in trinkets, baubles, and the acquisition of more and more. Some place their faith in finances, in their ability to earn an income, generate wealth, or provide a comfortable lifestyle. Some people place their faith in themselves, in their own abilities, their own self-control, their own sense of right and wrong, their own beliefs and convictions. For others, their faith is placed in what other people think of them or in the person they want others to think they are. We can see examples of this in the lengths that people are willing to go to achieve a moment of glory, notoriety, or recognition, however fleeting.

None of these things are inherently bad. There is nothing wrong with taking pride in your work or wanting to provide for your loved ones. There is nothing wrong with having a hobby or sharing parts of your life with others via social media. There is nothing wrong with having friends or valuing the opinions of those close to you. However, these things (and many others not discussed) become dangerous when we base our lives, our self-esteem, and our identity on them, because they are unstable, unreliable, and brittle.

History tells us that finances are fickle. Events such as the Great Depression, the stock market crash of the 1980s, or the Global Financial Crisis in more recent years clearly illustrate that financial circumstances can change in an instant, and for all its power, money can’t save.

People will let you down. People will disappoint you. People will hurt you. Each one of us is flawed, fallible, and imperfect, yet we allow others who are equally flawed to determine our worth and value? It doesn’t make sense.

How do you measure your worth in your own life?

What do you place your faith in?

What do you build your life on?

In Matthew, Jesus tells a parable explaining that there is only one stable, immovable foundation on which to build your life. Only one unchanging, perfect being in whom all of your faith can be placed.

Matthew 7:24-27 [ESV] 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Jesus doesn’t promise that we won’t face trouble. He doesn’t say that we will never be hurt or hurt others. But he does give us hope and unlimited access to God’s presence, an unending source of forgiveness and love.


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