Wednesday, June 07, 2006

[subversive underground] IMAGE

[subversive underground] IMAGE by Keith Giles

I was at lunch the other day when my friend made a comment about how he wanted to see himself the way God sees him.

That made me stop for a minute and consider what he meant by that. For me, to see myself the way God sees me is to be made aware of my sin. Like David in Psalms 139 who says, "Search me oh God and know my thoughts. Reveal the wicked way in me and lead me in the path everlasting", I tend to lean to the negative side when it comes to my self-image.

What my friend meant by seeing himself as God sees him was more about the righteousness of Christ credited to him through the Grace of God.

In truth, we're both correct. God does see us as already justified in the blood of Christ, and He also sees us as weak, sinful children who desperately need His Mercy and Grace. The amazing thing is that He loves us in spite of our sin, and that He chooses to see us, and treat us, "as if" we were actually already made Holy.

What concerned me was that I automatically assumed my friend meant the negative aspect of "How God sees me" and not the positve side. I mean, yeah, I am a pessimist. But the definition of a pessimist is just an optimist with experience, right?

Still, I wonder why I didn't follow my friend's line of thinking? Why did I automatically assume he meant the worst?

Recently God revealed to me a hidden, prideful chamber of my own sinful heart. It was painful to realize my shallow, sick hypocrisy, and yet at the same time it was good to know that God loved me and wanted to reveal to me my sin so He could change my heart. Being aware of the truth about myself was a good thing. Painful. Ugly. Yet seeing it was necessary to my spiritual transformation.

Maybe I'm afraid that, if I walk around focused on how God sees me as a totally righteous and holy I'll become self-decieved. I honestly don't want to stray away from this more realistic view of my own heart. To me there's a bit of danger in meditating on the righteousness of Christ attributed to me through the cross of Jesus.

Yes, God looks at me and sees Jesus. He sees me "as if" I have already been fully and completely justified. But, I think that to follow Jesus I have to be daily aware of my own potential for sin. Otherwise I'm afraid I'll be setting myself up for a fall.

A few weeks ago another friend of mine pointed out to me that I've often spent too much time seeking affirmation from my various employers over the last few years, rather than receiving the affirmation from God in my life. That made me think. In fact, it was like a light coming on my head.

I really think this person has accurately summed up the situation. I have been seeking affirmation from my employers over the last few years, and in fact I believe that this desire for affirmation has often driven me to over-extend myself, to do too much, to try too hard.

I've often had an internal desire to find a job where I "belong". I've looked for a job where I could be accepted for who I am. When I don't get that from my job I begin to feel isolated and rejected. But maybe the real problem is that I'm searching for the right thing in the wrong place?

The other day I was praying about some of this very same stuff and my wife Wendy pointed something out to me that really hit home. She said, "You'll always be welcome and loved by us", meaning my family; herself and our two boys.

Have I been seeking affirmation and identity in my job? Am I looking to belong to an organization?

I think God is showing me that He intended me to "belong" in my family. He made me to "make a difference" in the lives of my sons and my wife. He did not intend for me to find meaning and purpose in my job.

A few years ago I went through a long stretch of time without gainful employment. About a year and a half, actually. During that time I clearly felt God saying to me, "I care more about who you are than what you do for a living". For a man, that's sometimes hard to hear because we get so much of our identity from our job.

Every guy knows what I'm talking about. Fifteen minutes into any conversation between two men and one will inevitably ask the other, "So...what do you do for a living?" or "How's work coming along?" We get so much of our self-image from our job, and I think that, at least for me, needs to change.

My self-image is not in what I do for a living. My self-image is not in how much I fail to live up to the image of Christ either.

My self-image is in who God says I am. It's about being who He made me to be, and nothing else.

Now, if I could just figure out how to be the person He's made me, and called me, to be I'll be halfway home.

NEW SERMON PODCAST: "CONVERSATIO MOREM!" by Keith Giles - The newest sermon podcast based on the early Church Fathers saying which means "Death to the status quo" or "Constant Conversion". Download the sermon mp3 over at the main website now:

MOMENTUM 06 - Friday, June 23rd and Saturday, June 24th at St. James Church, Newport Beach, CA
Don't miss this incredible two-day conference on the emerging church, worship, justice, the arts and missional life.
With: Mike Pilavachi, Todd Hunter, Brenton Brown, David Ruis, and several others.
Student Rates and Couples Rates just added. Go online to learn more:

HOUSE CHURCH NETWORK: I'm currently in discussions with someone about possibly starting an Orange County House Church Network that would involve a website, and possibly even a magazine down the road. More on this as things develop.

BOOK UPDATE: I've been "stuck" on chapter 6 for a while now, but just this week I've picked things up again and really want to push through these last chapters to finish up soon. I'll submit the final version to a few publishers and if no one bites I'll self-publish it. Might even offer it as a downloadable pdf file, who knows?


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