Friday 30 November 2018

Will I Lose My Individuality as a Christian?

It is easy to picture my InterVarsity community as my personal gang. Colin—one of our chapter leader and hip-hop director of our school’s radio station—can throw down a mean rhyme on a moment’s notice, so I think that alone makes it a pretty good analogy for us. Our little gang has its own lingo, inside jokes, and knowledge that new Christians don’t have.

I should know. When I first joined our InterVarsity chapter, I understood about 80 percent of what the other students were saying...and I come from a Christian background. There were phrases thrown about that made me a little nervous, threw me off a bit.

So, I’m not surprised when I hear new Christians are concerned about losing their individuality in terms of how they talk, look, and act once they start following Jesus.

Jaime CastaƱer, InterVarsity Campus Staff at Ramapo College, said part of this misconception about losing our individuality comes from the language we use inside our Christian communities.

Phrases like being “born again” and “giving everything up” can seem intimidating, especially to someone new to faith.

“When we hear ‘giving everything up,’ we get this idea of losing all we have. Sort of like being in this desert, abandoned, where there is nothing around us,” Jaime said. “I rather see coming to Christ as a reorientation of our lives, rather than giving everything up. A refocusing of our life path.”

As someone who once heard this lingo and was a bit freaked out, I want to share what I’ve since found in my journey with Christ.

First off, I have not lost my sense of self. Sure, I have changed. A bit more patience, a bit more care in how I treat others. But I am still myself. I still love Diet Coke. I still nap way too much. And I’m still as determined and stubborn as I was before I started to follow Christ.

I think Jaime put it best when he said, “When you strive to be the best of who God made you to be, you discover your individuality.”

I can attest to that. After spending time in Christian community, I’ve learned my weaknesses and my strengths. I’ve learned what I need to work on, and with God’s help, I’m working to become who he wants me to be. At the same time, community has emphasized my strengths. God has given me a passion for writing, so I write blog posts like these and am part of a Christian-journalists group. I like storytelling, so I share other people’s testimonies and my own with my non-Christian friends.

God is the one who made us. He is the one who gifted us with strengths and weaknesses so we can improve every single day as human beings.

Psalm 139:14-16 explains it in a way I can’t:

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

Each of us was fearfully and wonderfully made. Why would God waste all that effort only for us to become mindless zombies? God loves our individuality because he is the one who gave it to us.

by Emily Brown

Original Source Link


Today's Scripture: Ecclesiastes 1 (KJV)

Ecclesiastes 1 (KJV)
1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.

13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.

17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

Scripture Meaning

Solomon shows that all human things are vain. (1-3) Man's toil and want of satisfaction. (4-8) There is nothing new. (9-11) The vexation in pursuit of knowledge. (12-18)

Verses 1-3
Much is to be learned by comparing one part of Scripture with another. We here behold Solomon returning from the broken and empty cisterns of the world, to the Fountain of living water; recording his own folly and shame, the bitterness of his disappointment, and the lessons he had learned. Those that have taken warning to turn and live, should warn others not to go on and die. He does not merely say all things are vain, but that they are vanity. VANITY OF VANITIES, ALL IS VANITY.
This is the text of the preacher's sermon, of which in this book he never loses sight. If this world, in its present state, were all, it would not be worth living for; and the wealth and pleasure of this world, if we had ever so much, are not enough to make us happy. What profit has a man of all his labour? All he gets by it will not supply the wants of the soul, nor satisfy its desires; will not atone for the sins of the soul, nor hinder the loss of it: what profit will the wealth of the world be to the soul in death, in judgment, or in the everlasting state?

Verses 4-8 
All things change, and never rest. Man, after all his labour, is no nearer finding rest than the sun, the wind, or the current of the river. His soul will find no rest, if he has it not from God. The senses are soon tired, yet still craving what is untried.

Verses 9-11
Men's hearts and their corruptions are the same now as in former times; their desires, and pursuits, and complaints, still the same. This should take us from expecting happiness in the creature, and quicken us to seek eternal blessings. How many things and persons in Solomon's day were thought very great, yet there is no remembrance of them now!

Verses 12-18
Solomon tried all things, and found them vanity. He found his searches after knowledge weariness, not only to the flesh, but to the mind. The more he saw of the works done under the sun, the more he saw their vanity; and the sight often vexed his spirit.
He could neither gain that satisfaction to himself, nor do that good to others, which he expected. Even the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom discovered man's wickedness and misery; so that the more he knew, the more he saw cause to lament and mourn. Let us learn to hate and fear sin

Scripture Application

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we start the Book of Ecclesiastes with Chapter 1.
In our text today we look at this book which means "the Preacher" as the wisdom of God preaches to us that all earthy things are futile. In making application we see that many spend all their time on earth attempting to gain the worlds riches, or knowledge, or pleasures when the truth is that there is no satisfaction in gaining these earthly treasures.

Today we see that the wealthy and self indulgent are among the most miserable folks on the planet. They have learned what our text proclaims that "things" do not make a person happy. How about you? Do you see that "things" do not bring happiness? Let us learn from our text today to see attain worldly things are vanity compared to the riches of knowing our Lord.

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