FIRST-PERSON: When God writes your Instagram handle
FORT WORTH, Texas -- I came late to the social media game because technology really intimidates me.
I now begrudgingly acknowledge, however, what a great tool social media can be to help connect with people, encourage them, share about Jesus and equip and disciple others, so I have jumped on the bandwagon. First Facebook, then Twitter, then Instagram -- each time I signed up because those apps opened doors for me to connect with students, friends and colleagues.
Can I tell you what has stressed me out a bit each time I have opened a new social media account? The description of myself!
I find it fascinating to read how other people define themselves, but how did I want to define myself? What kind of image would those carefully chosen adjectives and nouns project to the world? Too serious? Not serious enough? Each appellation selected contributes to an identity I am trying to communicate. So, for example, here is my Instagram description:
Christ follower, lover of bacon & used bookstores, Assistant Professor of Theology in Women's Studies @southwesternseminary.
I was trying to go for a mix of professionalism and humanness. Recently, though, in rereading C.S. Lewis' classic work "Mere Christianity," I have been reminded that as a believer what matters is how God defines me, not how I define myself. Lewis writes, "But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us. He is the inventor, we are only the machine. He is the painter, we are only the picture."
This quote got me thinking. What would my social media handle look like if I let God define me?
Since He is the painter, I wondered what God's Word said about the picture He is painting in my life. As you know, the Word of God has plenty to say about a Christian's identity. Here are just some of the ways believers are identified in the Bible:
Forgiven, redeemed, holy and dearly loved child of God,
A saint and citizen of heaven,
A conqueror and new creation,
Set free and complete,
Friend of God.
To expand on these:
-- Forgiven and Redeemed: "In him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).
-- Holy and Dearly Loved: "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12).
-- Child of God: "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26).
-- Saint: "To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours" (1 Corinthians 1:2).
-- Citizen of Heaven: "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20).
-- Conqueror: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).
-- New Creation: "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
-- Set Free: "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).
-- Complete: "… and in Him you have been made complete" (Colossians 2:10a).
-- Friend of God: "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15).
This list obviously is quite different than "lover of bacon and used bookstores" but it does reflect my identity in Christ. If you know Christ, these descriptors are true of you as well. Savor each word. Meditate on the truths of those verses. Don't let your eyes run over that list without the importance of each identifier grabbing hold of your heart. Even though our behavior does not always match our identity, these words do describe how the Creator of the universe looks at His children.
Think what a difference it would make if you and I reflected the truth of our identity in the way we lived today.
Remember, we are just paintings in the Master Painter's hands. I pray each of us will "live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10).