Ed Shaw, a Christian who experiences ‘same sex attraction,’ refuses to call himself ‘gay.’ His book describes his experience of growing up attracted to men. Because he is a Christian, he refuses to live in a same-sex relationship because he knows and understands the Word of God. He bows himself before God’s will and finds it reasonable to do so. He openly acknowledges his sexual orientation but also realizes that his identity is much more than his sexuality. And, he lets that identity be established what God says, not by labels that others attempt to use to define him. “Ephesians 1 tells me that I’ve been a child of God in His sight since before the creation of the world. ‘Child of God’ is a permanent label that He has personally chosen for me, and as a result is the most accurate way to define me. … Our identity is to be firmly rooted in Christ.” (Same-Sex Attraction and the Church, Ed Shaw, IVP, 2015)
Christian, whom have YOU believed in shaping your identity? Do you carry around shame because you believe the words that someone hung on you years ago? When you were told ‘you are worthless’ did you let that stick? Were you told you are too stupid to do much in life and believed it? A brilliant scientist, Jennifer Doudna, on the cutting edge of genetic research (CRISPR) that promises to help people overcome disease and deformity recalled the high school guidance counselor who casually dismissed her desire to become a medical researcher by saying, “Girls don’t go into science!” She ignored him and millions have enjoyed the benefit of discoveries that come from her keen mind.
God declares my identity and to the extent that I accept His Word and let the Spirit cause it to live in me, my life is changed. That is one reason I am enthralled by Paul’s inspired letter to the Ephesians. In those few chapters I find that I am a beloved child of God, chosen by Him, included ‘in Christ,’ a person of power to overcome, hopeful, with a holy purpose to display His love to the often darkened world in which I live. Yes, like everyone else, I have echoes of voices in my memory that try to define me as a failure, as flawed, as weak. The demons of destruction whisper lies in my mind about who I am, too. Who will I believe? The critics, the devil, or the Word?
Let’s be clear about something. This is not about creating a fiction that is detached from reality. We all have seen those parents who in a misguided attempt to boost their child’s self-esteem constantly praise, excuse every antic, and create a little undisciplined monster that nobody likes. “Oh, honey,” Mommy gushes, “you’re so special,” even as he is running wild, being obnoxious, and is in desperate need of firm parental guidance. They teach Johnny to believe a lie. The truth sets us free! God, our Father, loves us so deeply that He offered Himself to save us, but He is clear that we sin and that if we persist in our sin, we will reap the consequence.
He asks us to agree with Him about what we do and about who He desires us to be. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. … But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. … For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. … now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:1-2, 4, 10, 13, NIV) I believe the totality of that passage – I WAS a sinner, dead to God. He ACTED out of love to save me. He invites me to LIVE OUT His plan and become a masterpiece!
Let’s not be so quick to adopt the labels that others create for us. This Monday morning, take God at His Word, ask to be empowered to live as the person He’s designed and called you to be. There is death to Self in that and there is the discovery of life to the full, amazingly authentic, and filled with purpose.
Here’s the word from the Word. “You are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you— from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.” (1 Peter 2:9-12, The Message)
Father, I am amazed by You.
When I hear Your word about who I am in Christ,
A part of me wants to insist, “Oh, no, I know better than that. I know myself.”
Spirit of God, speak to my heart of Your love, Your way, and the strength I can find in You
To live the destiny for which You created me.
I confess who I was in my sin and I who I am now through Your salvation.
Help me to live for Your glory as You deliver me from Darkness to Glorious Light.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen