Champion.

I’ve been thinking about this post for over a year.  It’s really a topic and a thought that I’ve had since high school.  Something that I’ve pondered on as I have watched individuals in my life champion me.  

A champion is normally thought of as the victor of something.  They have become victorious and because of this they often are seen as fighting or competing on behalf of other people.  In the Hunger Games you would see this idea as each district had individuals competing to be the Victor but it was an honor for their district if they won.  They were champions for their people.
But what this word, champion, can also be a verb.  And in verb form it means the act of defending or support.  In Kaitlin terms… to champion is to make someone or something victorious.  To champion is to raise someone up when they can’t on their own.
Throughout my life… I have had many champions.  My parents, my sisters, my friends.  Aunts and Uncles.  Cousins.  Pastors, mentors, coaches, teachers.  They have all championed me.

In high school… I had many champions.  My parents, my high school leadership teacher and my pastor.  These people didn’t see me just as the youth with emotional baggage, who didn’t see herself as worth something but instead they saw what God was up to in my life and that my heart to follow Him outweighed my brokenness (most of the time).  And so they championed me.  They raised me up, they encouraged me, they made room for me at the table.  They naturally pulled out who God was calling me to be.
In college… I had many champions.  I had district supervisors and staff (Shout out to Dave Veach in the Northwest District!!) who loved on me and gave me opportunities to do and see more.  They didn’t hold back but only because they knew I had more to give.  I had staff at LPC who gave me opportunities to step into leadership roles, to love on others and who created opportunities to help me make it in college.  They saw not only a college student but a minister of the gospel, in many different ways.
And most recently, in the years since I moved to New England… I have had many champions.
I had a district staff that made room for me at the table.  When I arrived as a district intern I was given a voice.  I was encouraged to speak up and speak out.  To lead.  When I didn’t feel old enough, wise enough… when I just didn’t feel enough.  They championed me until I knew I was enough.
I had pastors around the district, well respected and seasoned leaders, who loved me and encouraged me.  They made room for me to be Kaitlin but also made certain that I was a part of this place.  Leaders who let me love their people and lead their youth.  Leaders who again, made room at the table and championed me.
I currently have a job as a staff accountant with a team and a boss who champion me.  They respect my thoughts and give me opportunities to both learn and lead.  They champion me to minister beyond just my local church body or even my denomination family to impact the Kingdom in far wider places.

 
I am being championed.
And I have pastors today who are helping me to make room at the table for others.  they encourage me to think differently, to dream larger and to allow God to do more in me. Who have never once told me that I’m too much but who are helping me to be the ALL God created me to be.  They champion me to not limit God in me, to not stay rooted in the box of conformity, but to be open wide to the limit that is only God’s Word.
They champion me. 
The other day at staff meeting, one of our pastors mentioned that in many of the letters that Paul writes he addresses the letter as coming from both himself and Timothy.  Paul puts Timothy on the same level as himself.  He gives Timothy equity with just a few words. Paul champions Timothy.
In my own life, I have so many instances to champion people.  I have leaders who are capable who just don’t know it.  I have youth who are made for more, who can’t even see past high school.  I have college students just wanting to know that they belong.  I have friends in my community loving God as best they can.

And the question that I am faced with is this, will I champion them?  
Will I make room at the table, will I allow their voices to be heard?  
Will I make them victorious, no matter the cost to myself?
Will I champion now?
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Resolving to Relate: DTR Part Two

If you have been following my blog for any length you will notice that there has been a strong theme over the past few months that have to do with 1. identity and 2. Relationships.  This is because at my youth group we have been talking about Identity (Who we are in Light of who God is), Resolving to Follow God, and then how those two play out in our relationships, especially dating, sex and marriage.

In our Identity series we talked about Determining the Relationship and that we must resolve to love those we interact with not as the world calls us to love but instead with God’s love.  A few weeks ago we touched back on this idea of Determining the Relationship but more in the context of relationships.

Our original design was as the image bearer of God , male and female together. As the imago dei (image of God/image bearer of God) we were created for:

  1. Relationship with God
  2. Relationship with others

If we are made as the image of God – then we have to understand who God is:

God is love.

1 John 4:8 “he that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.

This word love is the Greek word “Agape.”  This love…

…is considered a benevolent love which means that this love that is God’s very identity is a love that gives the recipient (you and I) something we can’t receive, make, find, earn on our own.

…it sees something infinitely precious in the recipient – not because of something they have done or not done but just because of who they are.

…is not shown by doing what the recipient desires (wants) but instead what the one who loves deems as needed by the recipient, even knowing this may lead to rejection.

We, as humans, cannot show this type of love to God or others without first receiving God’s love – it is only God, in His Holiness, who has such an unselfish love because this love is rooted firmly in the personal character of God. God’s love is a part of his personality and cannot be swayed by passion or diverted by disobedience.

God’s love isn’t based on how we make him feel – it is willful. He chose to love us and He continues to carry that love out.

If we are made in the image of God, and love is a part of His personality/His very identity – then doesn’t that mean that we are made in the very image of love?

And so, we must determine what our relationship with the World should be. Our Relationship with the World must be one of love – God’s love.

A love that gives what people need not what they want.

A love that is willing to be rejected to truly love.

A love based on seeing those we love as infinitely precious and deserving of God’s truth, God’s life.

A love not based on our feelings but based on willful purpose.

But the question is, how do we do that?


  1. A love that gives what people need not what they want.

I firmly believe that with both friends and with the suitable partner God has for us – that they will challenge us to be more of who God created us to be. They will give us what we need feedback, challenges, encouragement, room to grow, etc. not necessarily what we want.

We also need to be willing to be those people. Those friends and even those possible suitable partners.  Are we giving space for them to seek God first and not us, are we challenging what they are hearing from God when it sounds off base?  Are we calling them out when their actions don’t line up with what they say God has said?

2. Love with willful purpose – not a love based on feelings.

In resolving to relate – we need to be intentional – we need to have willful purpose in our relationships. We need to know what God is calling us to.

In our relationships we need to care both about those we are relating with today but also those we will be relating with and who they will be relating with in the future…

Listen to me, it isn’t just about how far is too far. But it is about honoring each other and those you will end up being with.

3. We need to be intentional today for the promises God has for us tomorrow.

We need to not just think about today but we need to ask God what He has for us in the future and then make decisions based on those promises.

Noah started building the Ark when there weren’t any clouds in the sky… when they didn’t even have a concept of what rain was. His actions were in light of God’s Word for the future not what he saw or felt in that moment.

4. We need to know who we are in God.

Adam and Eve were suitable partners for what God had created them to do.  God’s plan for us includes suitable partners for what we were created to do. But that means that to know who is suitable, we have to be willing to wait until we know what God has called us to do.

This doesn’t mean that we have to know the exact specifics but we must have a sense of the direction that God is calling us to.

God gave me this picture:

Imagine that you are back in high school and you have a huge project for one of your classes. Each person has a unique project they are working on and it has to do with who they are and how they were created.  Each project was created to bring out that specific person.

With this project, you will be working with a partner of the opposite sex.  The teacher tells you as you are receiving your projects that you can choose your own partner or you can wait on the teacher and they will pair you with someone who has a project that would complement your own.

You decide to pick your own partner.  You see someone who you think is cute and looks as though you would get along great.  You introduce yourself and ask if they would like to be partners.  They quickly agree and you start talking.  You find out that you have similar personalities, you likes similar things and everything looks perfect to you.

Over time though, you find that your projects are less compatible than you first imagined.  Conflict begins to arise as your research and resources are incompatible.  You find that either you must separate to find new partners, you will stay together but work harder to try and make things work or one of you will have give up their project.

If you had just waited on the teacher they would have brought you a suitable companion.  A companion whose project would have complimented your own.


The questions that God has challenged me and I challenged my youth with is this:

Are we willing to be intentional today – in our relationships –
for the promises of God for tomorrow?  

Are we willing to be intentional today so that our marriages, our callings,
our families tomorrow will be all that God intends them to be?

Identity: Determining the Relationship

I went to a smallish bible college for my college education.  And I’m not sure about most colleges but at my school relationships and dating were weird.  Our campus and student body was so small that no matter what you did everyone was watching and noticing.

There was a phenomenon in college called “DTRing”  DTR stood for “Determining the Relationship.”  A DTR happened when two members of the opposite sex had been hanging out a lot and on one side or the other questions of where this newfound friendship were going arose.  A DTR conversation could be identified by the following:

  1. A male and female were sitting alone at a bench or table.
  2. Normally there was an abnormal amount of space between the two.
  3. At least one of the individuals looked extremely uncomfortable.
  4. Both were serious.

A DTR conversation could happen because friends were questioning the friendship or due to a desire from one participant to be more than friends.  A DTR was meant to determine what their relationship was: dating or friendship.

I wish I could say that I never had a DTR but unfortunately I participated in a few too many of these.  And while the concept is mildly amusing to think back upon I can’t help but think that when we are talking about our identity as image bearers of God, that we are made for relationship with God and others, that we must Determine what our Relationship with the World will be.

Let’s take a look at what I’m talking about.

If we are made in the image of God we have to understand who God is.

God is love. – 1 John 4:8 “he that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.

When I say love what do you think about?

This love that speaks of God’s love is the Greek word “Agape.”  This love…

..is considered a benevolent love which means that this love that is God’s very identity is a love that gives the recipient (you and I)
something we can’t receive, make, find, earn on our own.

..sees something infinitely precious in the recipient – not because of something
they have done or not done but just because of who they are.

..is not shown by doing what the recipient desires (wants) but instead
what the one who loves deems as needed by the recipient,
even knowing this may lead to rejection.

God’s love for man is His doing what He knows to be best for man, not what man desires, because He sees us as infinitely precious to Him.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you look at Jesus, Jesus was not the Messiah, the Savior they wanted but He was the Messiah, Savior they needed.

God loved mankind enough to give us what we needed (and still need) knowing that mankind could continue to reject Him.

God’s love for us is not motivated or manipulated by our rejection or disobedience.

Romans 8:39 “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We, as humans, cannot show this type of love to God or others without first receiving God’s love – it is only God, in His Holiness, who has such an unselfish love because this love is rooted firmly in the personal character of God. God’s love is a part of his personality and cannot be swayed by passion or diverted by disobedience.

God’s love isn’t based on how we make him feel – it is willful. He chose to love us and He continues to carry that love out.  

If we are made in the image of God, and love is a part of His personality/His very identity – then doesn’t that mean that we are made in the very image of love?  It is out of His identity of love that our identity and purpose are redeemed. Jesus redeemed our identity and redeemed our purpose of relationship with God and others.

And so, we must determine what our relationship with the World should be. Our Relationship with the World must be one of love – God’s love.  A love that…

..gives what people need not what they want.

…is willing to be rejected to truly love.

..is based on seeing those we love as infinitely precious and
deserving of God’s truth, God’s life.

 ..is not based on our feelings but based on willful purpose.

What the World desires is to be accepted just as they are. To be accepted in their brokenness and chaos.  They know nothing except brokenness.  Their true desire is love, God’s love, but they don’t have even a basis to know what that is.

Eph 5:1-2 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Luke 6:27-28 “But to you who are listening to say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Are we willing for the World to dislike us if it means they will experience God?

Are we willing to be rejected to truly love others?

Will we resolve to love and not tolerate, no matter what it takes?

 

Identity: Purity

I’ve already shared with you that identity has been something that I’ve struggled with as I felt I had to earn or work towards what I thought my identity was.  Purity was an area that I never felt I had “achieved.”  It wasn’t that I had really made any choices that lead me to thinking I wasn’t “pure” but I never felt good enough.  Let me give you a bit more context…

My name is Kaitlin.  If you’ve ready my post καθαρός then this will all sound familiar but forgive me from indulging for a moment.  My name Kaitlin is derived from the Greek word Kathros.  This word can be found in Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see the Lord.”  The word pure in this passage is that Greek word, Kathros.  So you see, my very name speak the identity of purity but I felt as though it was something that I would attain after years of striving, after years of doing what I was supposed to.  I needed to discipline myself in the things of the Lord, get rid of all my sin, and then I would be pure of heart so I could see God.

You see, I thought that my identity and thus my purity was based on me doing instead of me being.

But, purity is so much more than what we often talk about.  Purity is more than saving sex for marriage.  Purity is more than learning to not go too far.  Purity in its simplest form is about relationship, but not the type we typically think about.  Purity is about our relationship with God.

Purity is a lifestyle of wholehearted devotion to God. 

As I began to share earlier… For my whole life I have held onto the verse Matthew 5:8

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see the Lord.”

… I held onto the idea that this was who I was destined to be.  My identity was to be pure of heart for then and only then would I receive what my heart desired, to see the Lord.  I have always looked at this verse as something to be attained, that if I try hard enough, if I keep myself pure, if I do all that I should be doing, then and only then could this verse truly be my identity.  But in the last few years God has spoken to me something that changed the way I see my name and myself.

He spoke to me truth.  “Purity of heart” is not something to be attained in the future but instead is the identity that God has already given to me.  God sees me as pure of heart, it is not something I must “make happen” but instead, in my passionate love of Him, it is found.

The phrase pure in heart means having a singleness of heart toward God. A pure heart has no hypocrisy, no guile, no hidden motives. The pure heart is marked by transparency and an uncompromising desire to please God in all things. It is more than an external purity of behavior; it is an internal purity of soul.

Purity is much more than what we can/should do or not do. Purity is a journey that must originate inward and flow outward.  Purity isn’t just about what we have, should, haven’t, shouldn’t do but instead purity is focusing completely our whole attention, in every area of our life on God.

In scripture there is a man who God calls “a man after His own heart.” Do you know who this is?  It is King David.  David: Sought God, Knew God, Meditated on His Word

This type of life starts from the inside.  Inner purity, the condition of our heart, is most important to God.True purity isn’t something we can do on our own.  True purity only comes from Jesus repairing our broken hearts and replacing them entirely.

Titus 3:5 “Jesus saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

Even King David though, the man who was after God’s own heart, screwed up.  He slept with a married woman, killed her husband and then married her.  But even in the face of his sin God still saw King David as pure of heart.  God saw the inward part of him…

Psalm 51:10, David cries out to the Lord, “Create in me a pure heart and renew a right spirit within me.”

The question isn’t if we will screw up, but instead what will we do when we do?

Purity in our lives doesn’t mean that we don’t screw up, but that we always rely on, have eyes on, turn back to God when we do screw up.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When we allow God to replace our heart and cleanse us, then he begins to permeate through our whole life.  Is the cry of our heart the same as David’s?  Create in me a pure heart?  Renew the Spirit, will, desires within me?

Growing up my dad used to talk about our lives as though they were a glass house.  He would ask us to invite Jesus into this house and begin to show Him around.  As we showed Him each of the rooms His light would permeate and shine through the whole house.  We had to decide when we came to a room with our sin and garbage if we would allow Him to clean that room so that His light could shine.  This is true purity – allowing God to shine his light through our whole life.

1 Peter 1:22 “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

The goal of purity is action – to love God, others and ourselves well.  Purity before God happens when everything we do becomes an act of worship.  Purity is our identity, not because of what we do, have done, don’t do or haven’t done.   Purity is our identity because we are an image bearer of Him. 

God redeems us as His image bearer, when we rely on Him to redeem us, to make us clean – when we turn our hearts fully towards Him and worship Him in all we do, then HE changes our thoughts, feelings, actions and makes us pure.

Will we allow God to redeem our identity?  Will we decide to pursue Him with everything we are and allow Him to bring about purity from our inside out?

Identity: Unashamed

Identity is such a touchy subject for so many and yet our identity affects how we move through life and interact with others.  We will only have a true view of our identity if we view ourselves in light of God.  Our original design is as the image bearer of God, we were made as the imago dei (image of God).  We were made for:

    1. Relationship with God
    2. Relationship with others

Our true identity is one of living unashamed: Living life under the light and life of Jesus.  But this identity doesn’t just start with Jesus but instead it starts at the very beginning…

Genesis 2:25 “Adam and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame.”

At the very beginning, Adam and Eve lived with no shame.  They walked with God, they walked with each other.  They were naked, enjoying intimacy that only comes from nothing being hidden.  They were unashamed.  But if you continue moving into chapter 3 we see that once in the garden, they are deceived and sin.  They eat of the tree of good and evil.  Genesis 3:8-11 highlights that one byproduct of their deception and sin was shame.

They recognized that they were naked, they were ashamed and they hid from God.

How often is this our reaction? When we mess up, when we sin, instead of turning to God we run away and hide.  This reaction is rooted in shame.

You see Shame robs us of intimacy in our relationship. Shame causes us to hide from God and others.

Adam and Eve were made without shame to be naked in the garden. Naked before God and each other.  If we get past the idea of them walking naked in the garden we recognize that they were not just naked in the physical but they were naked also in their intimacy with each other. Nothing was hidden.

The image bearer of God: man and woman, was made for intimacy with God and each other. Shame robs us of the very intimacy we were created for.

So the question is, what is shame?

Shame: a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.

Shame is a painful social emotion that can be seen as resulting from comparison of action to standards, comparison of self with social standard.  Shame may stem from a volitional action or simply self-regard, no action by the shamed being is required: simply existing is enough.

It is interesting to me that the root of the word shame is thought to derive from an older word meaning “to cover,” as such, covering oneself, literally or figuratively, is a natural expression of shame.

Brene Brown a research professor who has spent 13 years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame says the following about shame:

 “Shame is the most powerful, master emotion.  It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.” Brene Brown

“Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love.” Brene Brown

“The difference between shame and guilt is the difference between I am bad and I did something bad.” Brene Brown

The difference between shame and guilt is the difference between I am bad and I did something bad.  One speaks identity and one speaks behavior.  BE vs. Do.  The enemy will always try to get us focused on Doing instead of Being. Our Doing should always flow out of our Being.

You see, per the usual, shame is a false identity that the enemy tries to get us to buy into, saying that we are bad because we did something bad.  But the truth is that although we are sinners, when we allow Jesus to redeem our identity, we no longer have to identify as a sinner but instead we identify as children of God.

Marilyn J. Sorensen says it this way: “Unlike guilt, which is the feeling of doing something wrong, shame is the feeling of being something wrong.”  While guilt is seeing what you’ve done, shame is seeing yourself as a failure because of what you’ve done.

2 Cor. 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

    1. Guilt – the true emotion of wrong actions (sin) is godly sorrow and can lead us to repentance and thus salvation.
    2. Shame – camps us out on the act of our guilt saying this is where our identity lies.

Shame says that because I am flawed, I am unacceptable.  Grace says that though I am flawed, I am cherished.

Shame happened in the garden with Adam and Eve and it led them to hide instead of going to the one who created them. (Genesis 3)

1 John 1:9 tells us the truth – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Psalms 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

Through Christ we do not have to live under shame, but our identity has been redeemed.

Romans 10:11 – “Anyone who believes in Him (Jesus) will never be put to shame.”

When we believe in Him we will not be put to shame. Jesus took on shame so that when we believe we don’t have to. Shame has been a thing that God has been speaking to me about in recent days.  Shame is not a respecter of persons and is not found in just one area of our life.

But Shame is not of God. Shame is of the enemy and is a tool to keep us feeling alone and to torment us. Shame is born out of darkness, out of a lack of transparency and vulnerability. Shame is a way to keep us silent.  Brene Brown says “Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgement.”

As I look back at different areas of my life where shame once reigned there’s a theme.  Wherever shame reigned there was something that I was hiding –

  • sin,
  • perceived sin,
  • weakness,
  • hurt, etc.

…in each of those areas I felt alone, I wondered if I would ever be free and if God could ever change the situation.

They say hindsight is 20/20 and I find this to be true.  As I look back I see that the moment those issues were brought into the light, shame no longer reigned.  Instead of shame, hope was born. And as I continued to keep it in the light, exposed to those God had placed in my life, the more hope and freedom flourished.

You see when something is in darkness, hidden away and in the clutches of shame the enemy can wreak havoc. BUT the very moment that it is brought into the light, the enemy no longer has a claim.

Ephesians 5:11-14 “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them… But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.”

True purity (a life devoted to God) is allowing God to shine his light through our whole life.  Purity is the act of allowing God to shine light on the dark areas of our lives so that shame cannot reign but our part is bringing this into the open with those that we trust.

What we bring into the light the enemy can no longer manipulate.  So the questions remain:

Are you living life under the light and life of Jesus as one unashamed?  

And, will you allow the light and life of Jesus to shine on you and redeem you?

Resolving to Relate

Every day I am more and more convinced that God wants us to have full, passionate, healthy relationships.  And every day I am more convinced that the enemy has gotten us to buy into a lie that what we want, see, experience are more than God could ever give us.  And so I have resolved that I will no longer keep silent.  I will share what God has done in me, what He has spoken and shared with me about relationships, marriage and sex so that we will begin to see and experience all God has for us.

At our youth group we have been going through a series that I titled, “Resolved to Relate: Resolving to do relationships God’s Way.”  It isn’t about rules.  It isn’t about kissing dating good bye.  It isn’t about what we cannot do.  But instead it is about God’s love and promises to us which affects our love towards others.

It all hinges on our identity.  That our identity lies in who God is.  We are literally, as male and female, the image bearer of God and God’s purpose in us was for relationship.  Relationship with Him and relationships with others.  Who we are and how we were intended to relate can only be understood by who God is: love.

And so, if we are made, as the image bearer of Chris, for relationship with God and others, then we must resolve to relate God’s way.  We must resolve to relate in love.  Not in feelings or emotions but in love; a love that gives what the recipient needs not wants, that is not based on condition but instead is based on that recipient being seen as infinitely precious.

God desires that we would give and receive love that is bigger than emotions or momentary wants.  God desires that we would give and receive a love that captures the desires of our hearts, even before we understand them.

Are you willing to begin a journey of resolving to relate God’s way?

Identity: Imago Dei

Identity.  Such a touchy subject for so many people.  I’m sure that for most people they wouldn’t be able to give you a firm understanding of what identity in general is let alone what their identity is.  We often float through life with a very thin grasp on our identity and how our identity affects us.

Who we are effects how we think, act and feel.  The problem is though that often who we are isn’t who we perceive ourselves to be.  Too many of us are living our lives thinking, acting and feeling based on a perceived identity and not our true identity.  

If I had to sum up most of my life, this is my story.  I perceived my identity as being something I had to attain, had to make sure didn’t get away.  I wanted to be seen as someone who loved Jesus above all else but I thought I had to “do” to keep this as my identity.  In the last year God has rocked me to the core to realize both what my perceived identity had been and to begin to grasp what my true identity is.

There is a song called “Good, Good Father” that talks about God’s identity as our Father and the chorus of the song goes:

“You’re a good, good Father – it’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are…
And I’m loved by you – it’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am…”

My identity, who I am, is being loved by God.  I don’t have to strain to reach this because being loved by God is dependent on His identity and not myself.

1

Our true identity can only be seen and understood in light of who God is and His original design for us.

Original Design.  The design we see in the lives of humanity is not God’s original design.  If you look at Genesis God’s original design was one of beauty, unity and completion.  Humanity was made in the image of God, in the image of our Good, Good Father.  Humanity was made to bear the very image of God.

Imago Dei.png

And this original design was good.  I know that can be a bit hard to swallow but it’s true.  If we were made in the image of God and God is our good, good Father, then we as His image bearer are good.  This doesn’t mean we don’t sin (that began after His original design) but it means that when we allow God to redeem us, His image shines through, and it is good.

You will notice that I’ve been saying humanity.  It’s because if I said man you would think that I was only talking about men.  In our day and age we too often get caught up in the differences between male and female to the point that we loose sight that God’s original design was seeing male and female together as one identity.  

It is not that we as male and female are the image bearers of God but instead that we, male and female, in unity together are THE image bearer of God.  It takes both male and female, together, to reveal the image of God.  And it is in our commonness of difference, our same essence fulfilled in our differences, that the full image of God can be revealed.

It is also in viewing God’s original design in male and female that we see that God’s design was for two purposes. We were made with the identity of being the Imago Dei for two purposes:

  1. Relationship with God
  2. Relationship with Others

Without these two purposes our identity can not be seen.

Relationship with God.  In the garden, at the point of God’s original design, He made us to commune with Him.  He walked in the garden, face to face, with Humanity.  From the beginning it was about relationship with Him.

Relationship with others. And from the beginning God saw that it was not good for man (humanity) to be alone and so He created community.  From the beginning it was about relationship with others.

Adam and Eve were made to be in perfect harmony with God AND with each other.

Sadly, sin entered the picture and altered how male and female would interact.  Sin introduced division both with God and with each other.  If you look throughout history, if you look to the heart of every grievance and sin it is twofold: 1. to bring division in our relationship with God and 2. to bring division to our relationship with others.

Thankfully this is where another player enters the scene, Jesus.

redeemed by Jesus

Jesus entered the scene and redeemed our original design.  

Jesus redeemed our relationship with God. He made a way where there was no way back into communion with God.  He paid the price forever that we never have to live separate from God.

AND Jesus redeemed our relationship with others.  Male and Female no longer have to interact under the curse of sin but instead we are able to interact under God’s original design.

Identity, personal and corporate, can only be understood through the lens of Jesus’ redemption.  Our identity isn’t something we have to find, isn’t something we get to choose or change.  Our true identity is rooted firmly in Him.  His original design was that we, male and female, in our commonness of difference, would be the image bearer of Him.

What are you waiting for?  Allow Him to change your understanding of Identity.  Allow Him to root out the lies of the enemy and firmly establish you in His original design.  Ask Jesus to redeem your identity and thus your relationship with both God and others.  And then allow God to show you what it means to be the image bearer of Him.

Identity: Who we are in light of who He is.

I have spent most of my life struggling with identity.  I’ve struggled with who others saw me as, I’ve struggled with who I see myself as and I’ve struggled with who I thought I had to be for God.

I struggled to be good enough.  Smart enough.  Pretty enough.  Sane enough.  And on and on and on.  I struggled with my family being my identity, I’ve struggled with my job being my identity, I’ve struggled with my faults and failures as well as my strengths and success being my identity.

But in recent moments God has shown me my true identity.  My identity can only be known when I know Him for we are in light of who He is.

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In light of current culture events, in light of the world saying that we get to choose or identify our identity, we need to understand where true identity comes from.  At my youth group we started talking on this very topic a few weeks ago.  Before anything else, we have to firmly grasp what our identity is, then and only then can we interact with the World.

Join me over the next few posts as I delve into Identity: Who we are in light of who He is.

καθαρός

Names have always intrigued me.  I’m intrigued at how a name can adequately encompass a person and how there are names that do not fit that person.

Take myself for instance, my name is Kaitlin.  Kaitlin fits me quite nicely.  Kaity does not.  I am not a Kaity.  I have no ill will towards anyone with the name of Kaity or towards the name itself, I just am not that name.

If you look in the bible, you would see that names were important to them.  For their name didn’t just identify them as different than another but instead it was their name that gave them their very identity.  And throughout the story that unfolds from the bible we find that God often changes a name to signify a change of identity, a change of character.

A few examples:

Abram: high father -> Abraham: father of many
Sarai: my princess -> Sarah: mother of nations
Jacob: heel grasp-er, usurper -> Israel: he struggles with God
Simon: God has heard -> Peter: rock

Names, they are important.  And so, I bring you back to my name.  Kaitlin, it comes from the English word Kathryn, which comes from the Greek word Katharos.

katharós (a primitive word) – properly, “without admixture”; what is separated (purged), hence “clean” (pure) because unmixed(without undesirable elements); (figuratively) spiritually clean because purged (purified by God), i.e. free from the contaminating (soiling) influences of sin.

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see the Lord.”

For my whole life I have held onto this verse, held onto the idea that this was who I was destined to be.  My identity was to be pure of heart for then and only then would I  receive what my heart desired, to see the Lord.  I have always looked at this verse as something to be attained, that if I try hard enough, if I keep myself pure, if I do all that I should be doing, then and only then could this verse truly be my identity.

Then last week God spoke to me something that changed the way I see my name and myself; He spoke to me truth.  “Purity of heart” is not something to be attained in the future but instead is the identity that God has already given to me.  God sees me as pure of heart, it is not something I must “make happen” but instead in my passionate love of Him it is found.

And seeing God?  The thing that I desire above all others?  Well He showed me that I already see Him.  I see Him daily in the scriptures.  I see Him daily in divine encounters.  I see Him daily as my needs and desires are met.  I see Him daily in my relationships.  I see Him daily as seasons change.  I see Him daily.

Being Katharos, being Kaitlin, it isn’t a thing to be attained but instead is the identity of who God already sees me to be.

Who does God already see you to be?

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