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Identity Theft


When I was 11, my parents took us on a month-long trip to their country of origin, Greece.  They had come to the United States as adults in order to further their education and they settled here. This all had one unintentional down-side. My relationship with my grandparents withered, its richness diminished by distance.  Something wonderful happened, however, during that month-long trip. I had the opportunity to spend time with my grandparents. Thirstily, I soaked up accounts of their lives, their forbearers, stories reflecting the values which had animated their actions.  When I returned from that trip I was transformed. I had a much keener sense of my own identity because I now had a much better sense of what my family believed and stood for.

I have been reflecting that a similar separation of believers from an understanding of their true identity is being attempted. Perhaps even a false identity is being foisted on us to prevent us from realizing our God-appointed purposes. Consider this declaration, written by William Bradford, leader of the Pilgrim settlers of 1620.

We verily believe and trust the Lord is with us, unto Whom and Whose service we have given ourselves in many trials, and that He will graciously prosper our endeavors according to the simplicity of our hearts therein.

We are well weaned from the delicate milk of our mother country, and inured to the difficulties of a strange and hard land, which yet in a great part we have by patience overcome.

The people are, for the body of them, [as] industrious and frugal, we may safely say, as any company of people in the world.

We are knit together as a body in a most strict and sacred bond and covenant of the Lord, of the violation whereof we make great conscience, and by virtue whereof we do hold ourselves straightly tied to all care of each others good, and of the whole by everyone and so mutually.

Lastly, it is not with us as with other men, whom small things can discourage, or small discontentments cause to wish themselves at home again…

For the Pilgrims, this “strict and sacred bond”, this “covenant of the Lord” knit them to God with a most solemn commitment.  It was more than a contract with God. As Richard Niebuhr points out, contract always implies limited commitment; covenant unlimited commitment.  Contract is entered into for the sake of mutual advantages; covenant implies the presence of a cause to which all advantages may need to be sacrificed.  This level of personal consecration is rarely talked about now, but it was at the forefront of our spiritual forefathers’ thinking.

Notice too that the Pilgrims were thinking of a corporate covenant relationship. Their covenant with God implied a corresponding covenantal relationship with their fellow believers.  How could this work? “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  This meant a daily denying of self-love and self in order to obey God and love one another.  The is the kind of commitment our spiritual forbearers made and it is something we need to know or else we may assume a false identity not in sync with what our heavenly Father has in mind.

2 Responses to “Identity Theft”

  1. on 10 Dec 2006 at 6:11 pmJohnO

    I agree – this commitment is something that desperately needs to be made. But before it can me made corporately – I believe we have to each make it individually. I really do think that only those who have truly let go of themselves and denied their desires and goals, who have ultimately pledged their all to God, can then pledge to a community like that. The community, ultimately and unfortunately, will be a burden if it’s members are not individually committed in their life to God. It will become the burden of the entire community. And I think this is the state the “christian church” is in today. They have agree to let unrepentant, uncommitted individuals have full communion in their community with no plan for discipling those people. And those people have come to vastly outnumber the truly repentant and beliving. People wonder why Pastors burn out. I have to think this is the reason. People want their needs met, and Pastors want to meet people’s needs. However, I can think the only way that this situation could ever truly work is when those who want their needs met truly repent and convert.

    To use an engineering analogy, a system which has more output than input will cease to function, when all the energy is spent. Only when there is more input than output can change happen within the system (since change takes energy). And thanks be to God that he can supply us with supernatural energy, or we wouldn’t have gotten this far!

  2. on 28 Dec 2006 at 11:42 amIsabel Picchianti

    This is so true. The past year this very subject has been in my heart.
    God has been patiently working in me to get in touch with other believers that I haven’t heard from for quite a few years.

    I must admit it’s not easy somtimes, but I feel like these are my family, God has knitted the body together the way it pleases Him.

    We need on another.
    God designed the body so we would be accountable to each other.

    Love in Christ. Isabel:)


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