I had the great good fortune to spend Friday night at a fantastic friends house. He hosts a once a month cigar/conversation night and I was able to Sacramento for it. It was a wonderful break in routine and allowed me some perspective as to recent events in my life.
Among the ideas it spawned was the result of a story he told of a recent conference he attended. The speaker spent some time with them, examining Christ’s early life and the sequence of events recorded in the Bible regarding his start as an adult.
What he pointed out was a unique way of looking at that start that tied together a number of other ideas I have wrestled with for a while. Upon coming of age, what is the first thing Jesus does? He goes to the Father to receive His identity. His cousin, John, baptizes him and His Father recognizes Him publically as His own. He receives His true identity.
Then, he goes off and struggles to defend that knowledge. He has to internalize that identity, be tested and strengthen that identity. Jesus then goes off and does some preliminary preaching, but He doesn’t really jump right into full blown ministry. That requires community and, with the calling of the disciples, that is what He seeks.
Only after receiving and acknowledging His true identity, having that knowledge tested and strengthened and entering into a restorative, supportive community does He begin to reach out to others in a significant way, only then are all the pieces in place for Him to take up His life’s work.
From my perspective now, having earned a few white hairs on my chinny chin chin, this is how it must be. How many guys do you know, it’s almost a caricature, who graduate high school and don’t know who they are, so they seek to answer that question either through some vocation or in the arms of some young girl?
The instinct isn’t entirely wrong. You have to try your hand at a few things sometimes, to see if they are or are not for you. But that process should not replace knowledge of WHO and WHOSE you are. Who you are is never What you do.
I am finally coming to the point in my own life where I can say in complete honesty that what I do on any given day is far less important than who God says I am. And, who I am in relationship with, whether a long standing one or a casual lunch conversation with a stranger, is also much more important than what I do. It is only lastly that what I do on a given day is important…after what is really important has occurred.