Ephesians 2:19, "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household ..."

How any person defines self depends on the circumstances of his or her life. What is the person's life about? Is it about surviving in inescapable poverty? Is it about excelling in opportune circumstances? Is it about giving or receiving pleasure as a person existing in a culture of personal pleasure? Is it about self-indulgence and greed in a social group dedicated to self-indulgence and greed? Is it about acquiring power in an environment that respects little but power? Is it about escape? Typically, a person defines himself or herself in ways that he or she sees as predominant in "my world" or in ways exhibited by "important" people who surround him or her.

Self-definitions are relevant! Typically, "I" seek to become "my" definition of what a person in "my" situation should be. Many people dedicate extraordinary efforts toward becoming what they think they should be as individuals. What is attractive? What is feminine? What is masculine? What is "my" concept of a single? Of a wife? Of a husband? Of a parent? Of an adolescent? Of success? Of failure?

Who defines "me"? Family demands? Peer pressure? Work environment? Social environment? Professional expectations? Academic pursuits? Athletic expectations? Money? Power? Lifestyle?

In most of our lives there are "major defining factors" and "minor defining factors." A "major defining factor" is always essential regardless of the situation, even when stressful circumstances are full of potential consequences. "Minor defining factors" are essential if the situation is a typical circumstance, but not a stressful circumstance.

Question: which is God? A "major defining factor" or "a minor defining factor"?

In some southern environments, a person is expected to be intensely involved in a spiritual commitment. In other regions, such involvement is looked upon as unhealthy. Religion should be a part of life, but it should not be taken so seriously. In other regions, the healthiest life is the non-religious life. A person should enjoy and experience the moment of now. In other regions, religion is viewed as a fanatical attempt either to cope with the undesirable in life or to escape responsibility.

What role does God occupy in defining "who I am"? How do I place God in that role? Is it simply a matter of "going to church"? Of attending classes? Of performing expected behaviors? Of reading my Bible and praying? Of helping a ministry? Of allowing God to define "who I am" and "what life is about"?

To seek self-definition apart from God is to walk in the darkness of futility. To seek self-definition through God is to walk in the light of self-discovery. Be a person who belongs to God's household!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 17 October 2004

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