"So, what do you do?"
"Tell me about yourself"
"What's your story?"
When someone is trying to get to know you, these are common questions you might be asked, especially here in America. You might also be asked, "What college did you go to? What was your major? What do you look like? (maybe you're getting to know them via Internet)... Do you 'work out'? What are your hobbies? What kind of music, books, movies do you like? What are your dreams? What are your goals for the next five years? Are you married or single? Have you ever 'been in love?' Are you a Republican or Democrat, religious or atheist, conservative or liberal?", and so on.
A lot of these questions might yield worthwhile information, although if someone asks you all of them at the same time your head is liable to explode. Some of these questions probably reveal more about the real you than others. But then again, who is the real you?
When someone asks me, "Who are you?", would I be most inclined to:
a) tell them what I've done
b) tell them where I've been
c) tell them what I hope to accomplish
d) salute and give them my name, rank and Social Security number
e) hurl myself to the floor in a fake epileptic fit, complete with foaming of the mouth
f) run away, flapping my arms frantically and shrieking "leave me alone!!!"
d) all of the above
e) none of the above?
Is there an easy, unobtrusive way for someone to find out who I am? Maybe if they just had a sly look at my CV or resume? I dont think that would tell them very much about the REAL me... Perhaps if I send you my un-official, personal resume, 20 pages long, listing jobs held, college major, chronological bio (my story), interests, hobbies, passions, goals, with a nice glossy head shot of my handsome smiling face, you'll get a better idea of who I am (I'll send it to you for $12 US funds--I accept all major credit cards and PayPal). Or you could visit my web site (oh wait, that's just a starter page). Maybe it would be helpful if I also sent you a video with crucial footage of Me-- Me graduate college, Me get married, Me open all my birthday presents (video is only an additional $10, with purchase of the resume bundle). If you shelled out these nominal fees, read the resume/bio, went to the website, and watched the video, would you know me then?
Of course, the answer is no. Certainly you might now understand many things about me (or perhaps you'd be quite perplexed), but unless you and I had interacted somehow, you still wouldn't really know me, would you? To really know someone, we must be acquainted with something beyond the mere facts of their lives, even if those facts have been conveyed to us in great detail by the person themselves. We need finally, to talk and interact with the individual face-to-face, in order to experience their essence and come into contact with the living soul that resides underneath all the outward trappings.
[At this point I must apologize because this began as quite a serious post but unfortunately Mr. Silly keeps trying to take over. Down boy! Down! OK, now where were we? Oh yes].
My point is that you won't know me by watching my videos (actually I don't have any yet anyway), reading my blog, listening to my music or even, should you lead such a charmed life, by "hanging out" (Americanese, meaning "spend informal time with") with me. Of course, of all of these options for getting to know someone, spending much time together is the most informative, if your purpose is to really know someone. Yet even then, there is an essential, mysterious part of me that you'll never know. Why, you may ask-- am I the "Marlboro Man"--macho and aloof? No, not at all. What I'm saying is that there something mysterious about us all, as human beings.
Each of us is created by a Masterful Designer who has intricately woven together, not only the physical, emotional and intellectual parts of our beings, but also the events of our lives, into a package that is unique, meaningful and beautiful. And this complex package that is each one of us cannot be reduced to our resume plus our biography plus our accomplishments. All of these things may reflect a portion of who we are, but they don't and cannot completely define us.
What role does Christian faith play in all of this? I'll comment on that in a moment. But first note that the world system tends to try to define us superficially--by some outward aspect of ourselves. Perhaps you have seen yourself as a clever wit, or perhaps, as an innocent; maybe you view yourself as sophisticated and with above-average intelligence. Maybe you are just overflowing with charisma and sex appeal. Perhaps you pride yourself on being a man or woman of humility. We tend to forge an identity out of our natural strengths, and define and measure these strengths according to prevailing cultural, and highly subjective, standards. For example, one person thinks it's crucial to be extremely physically fit (because they have good genes, enjoy exercise and have the good fortune of health); the next treasures inner spiritual growth (because they happen to have a reflective temperament, like smoking more than running, and enjoy spending time in meditation).
I believe that the role Christian faith plays in all of this is that it says, "Wait a minute, you are not just what you do or what you accomplish; you are made in the image of God, you were uniquely fashioned by Him, for a divine purpose." We have been granted the dignity and freedom to make choices that effect our ultimate destiny, yet many of the things that help define who I am are simply given, not chosen. For example, I did not choose where and when to be born, who my parents are, what sex I would be, what my natural strengths and weaknesses are. God has chosen all of these things for me.
Yet what I now choose to do with all these givens is vitally important. Will I acknowledge that there is a Maker? Will I make the most of my talents and gifts, in service to mankind? Do I face my faults honestly, acknowledging the sinfulness I find in myself and turning to the Maker's solution for this problem, His Son, Jesus Christ? It is making these types of choices, I believe, that help us progressively forge a truly human identity, one that reflects the Maker's design and His image in us.