Identity Counts

I remember it well, even if it was 30 years ago: my first job. I actually have to give my sister, Liz, a lot of kudos for getting me on as a dishwasher to start. I was 16 years old, soon to be a Junior in High School. But Liz was one of the best servers there, so she had a lot of pull with management.

I worked for about 9 months in that hot kitchen, washing plates, loading-cycling-sorting-and stacking dishes and flatware. It was a bit monotonous, but it paid money. Then, I finally came up for a server position. Soon after, I was trained over a few weeks, watched for a few more, and then cast into the world of direct customer service, attending to customer’s needs. {Liz did warn me about this too].

Over the next 6 years, up until college graduation, I worked that job and applied for others. They included an Assistant Manager’s position at a retail Music Store (which is no longer in business) and as a Book-Keeper/Payroll Clerk at a Resort nearby.

Things even got more interesting after college graduation. I won’t bore you here with those details and experiences. Let’s just say: there were some very interesting things before I landed in the world of manufacturing.

But one consistent thing I learned, as I look back on all of that from 20-30 years ago now is this: Identity mattered then, and it surely still matters today.

Even if you are an American citizen, born here and lived here your whole life, you know a few things about what occurs when you apply for a job:

  • You complete an official Application, answering all kinds of questions about yourself. Even explaining to some extent, why you are “interested” in the job or position.
  • If asked, you provide a resume that even further divulges into “who you are” “what you have accomplished” and “what you can offer.”
  • You submit to a drug screen.
  • In many instances, you will also have to sign for a Background Check to be completed.
  • Then, you begin the process of personal, face-to-face interviews. I know some people who went through many layers of these, including up to 4 different dates/times.
  • And of course, everyone is familiar with the 90-Day Probationary Period. In that window, you are observed and evaluated to ensure you are a good fit, a reliable employee, and able to complete the job responsibilities.

While some of this may vary from place to place, from position to position, one thing is constant: Who you are, matters, up front; and who you become is something that is observable to those around you.

Your identity and who you are matters to God – most importantly. The real question of your life is this: Who (or in some cases, what) are you identified with? In the Word of God, we are told over and over again that we are to be made, more and more, in the image of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That is exactly how we will be recognized by the Father when we see Him, face-to-face.

Questions are: Are we becoming more and more like Him? Are we following His example and mandate? Are we yielding to His Lordship? How are we being identified?

There is nothing wrong with knowing or getting to know someone’s identity. If we do this when applying for a job…if it matters when we are before God Himself…then it must also be important when people show up at our doorstep. When Jesus was asked a question in and effort to try and trip Him up, they were pinning the government against the law of God. In essence, the way I read it, they were trying to get Him to say, “you don’t have to pay your taxes.” This would undercut Caesar (and the Roman authority). But Jesus answered conversely, in a way that they could not wiggle out of. He responded:

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.”

There is balance and reason in that response. Some may say that it pertained to taxes. Others may try and turn that, signaling it is 2,000 years old and given in a different culture and era (not applicable today). I say that Jesus answered that with an answer that is timeless and one that we must willingly accept; one that is clarified in other parts of Scripture: “obey those in authority over you” and “pray for them.” 

These are tumultuous times. There are great challenges before us. And yet, we are closer to Jesus’ return as we have ever been! In these days, the enemy is using just about everything to try and divide people. We are told this would happen, even as the Day of the Lord draws near – the intensity, the division – will only increase.

It is in these times we must turn to steadfast prayer, to fasting, to service. We must saturate ourselves in the Lord’s presence and rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us into truth. The most important thing: to have our identity in Jesus Christ, and to do our best so that others desire to be identified by Him/in Him. So let us be a people after God’s own heart, not trouncing on or minimizing His commands and laws, but upholding it through obedient compassion and faithful stewardship.

All things are under His Lordship and reign…thankfully! We can be, and must be, both responsible and compassionate. Blessed is the Name of the Lord!

Porter

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pastorpg

A follower of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene.

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