Every day we make countless choices…many without realizing them. The first is often to simply decide to get out of bed when the alarm goes off, the sun comes streaming through the window, or someone nudges you awake.
Sounds simple, right? Yes, but that choice will impact each choice for the rest of the day (especially if you choose not to get up at all or get up late for work).
Throughout the day each of us will make choices about what and when we eat, whether we exercise, whether we follow through on something we have committed to, how we respond to people who call or speak with us, and what our focus will be.
Choices (when added up) shape the identity that is ours little by little over time even when many of the choices seem inconsequential.
Our choices are influenced by a variety of sources. These include: how much the opinions of others matter, how much we want to “fit in”, what we believe about almost everything, who we listen to, what we read, the people we hang out with, what has wounded us, what we feel about ourselves, and what we believe about God. And that list can be even longer.
In many of these categories we are often swayed by opinions and subjective views more than truth. That is not our intent many times, but unless our pursuit of the truth is diligent across the expanse of influences in our lives we may well be deceived.
One of the strong influencers is our culture to one degree or another. Before you dismiss that idea, pause to consider what clothes hang in your closet now and what clothes were there five or ten years ago. What music stations are cued in on your car radio or iPod? It is likely there has been change there as well even if you still groove on the 40’s, 60’s, 80’s, or 90’s channels.
Culture has changed the words we use, what they mean, and how we use them. It has determined the shows on television and the movies in the theaters. Language and topics that were unthinkable even ten years ago are common now.
Little-by-little culture has cleverly led us to accept the norms that govern the society in which we live. Culture has sometimes been so subtle that it has invaded some of our churches as well before we have recognized that it is backwards…the church is to be influencing the culture not vice versa.
Why is it important to be clear on what informs and shapes our identity?
A simple answer: it matters to God.
Kenny Luck clarifies it this way:
“The question of identity is issue number one to God because whatever commands your identity will, by default, command your energy – either toward or away from God’s dangerous good agenda for your life.”
My lived experience confirms the truth of that statement and it also sobers me.
Is my identity in Christ and the truth of His Word holding a steady course in the waves of the culture buffeting against me?
Do I stand steadily for the principles I want to guide my life or do they waver under pressure from the culture of everyone and everything that I am exposed to each day?
My answers to these questions will help me understand what guides my choices and how those choices reveal the truth of my identity to those around me and to the Lord.
It also draws me back to Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:1 (NIV):
“As a prisoner of the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
What would we look like if that were our choice daily?
What would the world look like?