Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be someone else? To have been born in a different country, into a different social class, or in a different period of history? To be a famous actor or musician, powerful politician or influential business person?
Judging by the continuing popularity of stories about identity swapping, quite a few of us enjoy fantasizing about having an identity other than our own. Over a hundred years ago Mark Twain penned a highly successful novel, “The Prince and the Pauper” in which look alike boys, Prince Edward VI and commoner Tom Canty, exchange clothing and for a period of time their lives. The book relates the story of how each boy struggles to regain their true identity, having learned they do not envy the life of the other.
Books and movies based on some form of identity swapping continue to capture our attention ever since. Well known movies explore themes of twins switching places (“The Parent Trap”), age switching from younger to adult and the reverse (“Big,” “17 Again”), exchanging bodies with a parent or friend (“Freaky Friday,” “The Change Up”) or returning from death with a new identity (“Heaven Can Wait”).
A common theme in most of these stories is the desire of the characters to regain their original identity. Although they learn a lot in their identity switch, they decide that being themselves is who they most want to be. It’s as if they recognize that there is something unique about being themselves that they value, and cannot find in another identity.
Just what is this uniqueness that is “you”? Who are “you”? Too often we identify ourselves by who we are related to (spouse, parent child), our age or gender, the groups we belong to, or the professions or jobs we work in. But these are only our roles or characteristics, not our essence. Who are you in your essence? What makes you, you? Do you know?
God tells us that we are created in His image to be fruitful, creative and to have dominion. (Genesis 1:27) But just what does this mean? God wants us to know how truly unique we are: “Before you were formed in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for My holy purpose.” (Jeremiah 1:5a)
God gives each of us special gifts that are talents and abilities that come naturally to us, and bring us joy and fulfillment. He wants us to share them with others and to be enriched as others share their abilities with us. (Romans 12:4-6) In this way we all mutually benefit from the talents each of us provides. We find our true identity in our unique gifts through offering them to others. We only discover who we are through our relationship with God and others.
God does not leave this process of self-discovery to chance. Ephesians 4:11 explains how God gifts certain people to equip us to discover and share our talents as we relate to each other in Christ.
Come join us this Sunday at 9:00 AM or 11:00 AM. Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing these God appointed offices in the Church and how they assist us in discovering who we truly are in Christ. My sermon is on “Apostolic Wisdom.”