Are you your own person, or what people want you to be? How did Jesus navigate this struggle?
How do you balance remaining true to yourself with pleasing and influencing others? Few questions are more relevant today. It’s not a big issue in the Bible, but there was this time when Jesus overtly faced this struggle.
Matthew 22:15-18 (my translation, compare NIV)
15 Then the Pharisees put their heads together to trap him with his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians to say, “Teacher, we know you’re authentic, and you teach God’s way with authenticity. You don’t care what anyone thinks or look for people’s approval. 17 So, tell us what you think: should we pay tribute to Caesar or not?”
18 Aware of their evil intent, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you play actors?”
Just wow! Reading this, I feel like I could learn more from Jesus than from years of psychological research. Sure, Matthew has summarized a longer conversation, but how did Jesus gain such anthropological insight?
Continue reading “Personal identity and social influence (Matthew 22:15-18)”
“I don’t know who my parents were. I’m told I was abandoned as a baby. Now I’m six years old, and my identity is in Jesus.”
Moving words from this Ugandan girl, part of the Watoto Children’s Choir. Sure, somebody scripted her lines, but she seemed to understand something about identity that many of us struggle to understand. Continue reading “This six-year-old gets identity”
Different cultures have different ways of understanding identity. Who’s right?
Who are you? We all have multiple identities, so which one is the real you?
Are you that smiling person on social media in that photo from years ago? Are you the grumpy one, climbing out of bed without enough sleep? Are you the life of the party, caught up in the moment? Are you the one pulling out the earbuds, wishing the crowd would go away?
Continue reading “Finding your identity”
What does it mean to be human?
To err is human, and I’m only human. The way we spin it, it sounds like being human is a liability. Perhaps we’re still seeking our identity. Continue reading “Humans as the king’s agents”
Open Exodus 4:24-26 and 6:13-30.
What do you make of this?
Exodus 4:24 (ESV)
At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to put him to death.
By this time, Moses was no longer arguing with God. He has accepted his appointment as ambassador for the kingdom of heaven, with a message for the king of Egypt. He has said his goodbyes to Jethro and the Midianite community. His family is obeying God and heading back to Egypt (4:18-20).
On the journey, as Moses obeys, YHWH confronts him and tries to kill him? Why? Continue reading “Why did God try to kill Moses? (Exodus 4:24-26)”
Open Exodus 3:16-22.
It’s a terrifying assignment. Moses is commissioned as ambassador for the heavenly king. He must confront Pharaoh with YHWH’s demand to release the Hebrew people.
But first, Moses must convince Israel of their identity as YHWH’s people, not Pharaoh’s. Moses is instructed to do this in partnership with the elders of Israel (3:16).
That implies that the descendants of Jacob have some level of self-understanding and organization. Christian preachers who care only about theology (and not history) sometimes characterize the Hebrews as slaves who’ve been oppressed so long they have little sense of their identity as descendants of Abraham. That’s a caricature: Continue reading “Helping God’s people find their identity (Exodus 3:16-22)”
Open Exodus 2:15-25.
Who is Moses? A Hebrew by birth? An Egyptian by nationality? He tried to take a stand with the Hebrews against the injustice of Egypt, but it didn’t work. Now he’s a nobody. Far from the Hebrews and Egyptians. In no man’s land.
Even in the wilderness, injustice reigns. Seven Midianite sisters try to water their father’s flock, only to have male shepherds push in. It’s just like God said: women face gender conflict in a world where rebellion rules (see on Genesis 3:16).
Moses stands up for them, so they return home early with their sheep. Their father’s surprise indicates that this sexist injustice was their daily experience (2:18). Is it only Moses who cares about gender inequality? Or does every form of injustice need to be set right for the kingdom of God to operate as our heavenly ruler intends?
Continue reading “Your kingdom identifies you (Exodus 2:15-25)”