Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Story : Identity : Security : Confidence

Who am I? Why am I here?

These two questions – a question about being, and a question about doing – are the most fundamental questions that we can ask. In fact, we cannot help but ask them, because we were designed to know the answers. The Bible is the story of God coming to people and addressing these two questions:

I have made you to be in relationship with me, and I have something for you to do...

These two intertwined themes – being and doing – run through every story within the big story. The theme of bearing God’s image, of having that image restored to us, which we call ‘Covenant’...and the theme of representing God’s rule in the context in which he has placed us, which we call ‘Kingdom’...

Who am I? Why am I here?

In times of stability, individual people generally do not feel the need to ask such questions. Indeed, such questions seem somewhat of a philosophical indulgence: we inherently know who we are and why we are here - even if our knowing is misplaced...And we know because stable cultures have stories that tell us who we are and why we are here; because as a community we have asked and answered the questions – in the stories we tell about ourselves: in the myth of the British Empire, the American Dream...

In times of instability, individual people – and therefore increasingly the societies they make up - tend not to know the answer to these questions. In times of instability – in times of rapid cultural change, or global economic crisis, for example; in times we might recognise as being our own – we lose confidence in the stories told us in the stable times. In place of a story, we hear multiple competing stories: this way of living is as valid as that can be whoever you want to be...invent yourself – if you don’t like who you are, re-invent yourself...

And often there is much in those apparently stable stories that needs to be shaken. In times of instability, God, who is unshakeable, shakes whatever is shakeable – whatever does not flow from him – in order that what is unshakeable – whatever flows from him – is left. God is at work. But his purpose is not that we should be left utterly disorientated by the experience of the world, but that, through the shaking of all that we have built on, we might rebuild on solid rock.

As my friend Mike Breen puts it:
when you have a story, you have an identity;
when you have an identity, you have a security;
when you have a security, you have confidence.

And conversely: if you don’t have any confidence, it’s because you don’t have security; if you don’t have security, it’s because you don’t have identity; if you don’t have identity, it’s because you don’t have a story.

We have a story to share, a story of Covenant and Kingdom, the most amazing story that could ever be told...a living story, wide enough to embrace, and deep enough to satisfy, everyone who has ever lived...

Who are you? Why are you here?

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