Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Are you in the correct lane? Part 2

One of my favorite recurring themes in the Star Trek franchise is, the Borg. I like it for the same reason I like Invasion of the Body Snatchers; if you’re in the mood for a thriller, neither ghosts, monsters, espionage, nor zombies will quite cut it; the definitive word on terror is, assimilation. Why? Because, assimilation is all about losing our identities.

As terrifying the prospect of losing one’s identity is, it’s interesting that numerous belief systems in the world hold assimilation as the ultimate objective.

The stoics saw us as being caught up in a single pattern of fate repeating itself over and over forever, where we start from fire and eventually reabsorb back into fire. The evolutionary materialists see us all disintegrating into the elements from whence we came, and re-assimilated into an infinite repository to be recast like so many dice. The sundry eastern religions seek an assimilation into the One.

The attraction of these various systems for us is they take us off the hook. They satisfy our innate hunger for a spiritual reality while putting very little demand on us. Indeed, the little demand imposed by these systems, such as meditation, only serves to temporarily sedate us who are an angry, frustrated, fearful, and insecure humanity. The great irony here is our acquiescence to fate allows us to remain in control--or so we would like to believe.

We have become this desperate race because we have all misplaced our authentic identities. We don’t know our real names. We misplaced them because we have insisted on defining our identities on our own. In the words of my teenage daughter: “Fail!” We cannot hope to be authentic humans unless we start from the self we were created to be. And only God knows what that is; only God can explain it to us; and only by walking intimately with the one true God will we ever fulfill our identities.

I must digress for a moment to note that our fascination with assimilation and death and such things stems from a central belief that they are natural and therefore inevitable. Hence, we say to ourselves: I’m going to be wearing this someday. I might as well try it on for size.

But death and assimilation are not natural outcomes. They are unnatural. God created us to live, and to live as unique individuals bearing a singular identity—a name belonging to no other.

What do I mean, then, by this all important thing called, identity? My friend Tim Brygger has spent years pondering this question, and this fall he will publish a book called, Becoming, to answer this difficult question. I recommend going to his web site,, for further details. For now, I will quote, from the introduction of Becoming, Tim’s definition of identity for us to consider:

Identity is an idea, but an individual idea. He is not humanity or mankind, but the distinct idea of each individual person. He is tricky to get a solid grasp of because every person’s identity is different.
Identity started out as the great idea of his Creator. When he was only that idea, he had a distinct form….

What defines him is his uniqueness; his specific attributes. These are his unique offerings from The Creator to all the rest of creation. His unique attributes have incredible value and purpose – not because of what they do, but because of the potential that they were created with! As He plays upon those uniquenesses with creativity and takes hold of the intrinsic, beautiful potential, he finds incredible satisfaction and joy in being himself and playing his part.

To further describe him would be to describe a person. His identity is what makes him who he is, everything he was equipped with at his inception: natural talent, created personality, his ‘bent’ to contribute in a distinct fashion… every characteristic that was original in him (that preceded the influence of “environment”)

Quite a beautiful and elegant synopsis, wouldn’t you agree?

We were created to be authentic humans. Only as authentic human beings will we achieve the purposes and meanings intended by God. God created us in His image, so we are necessarily relational individuals. To be relational individuals who achieve the purposes of God requires we each have an identity. Jesus has redeemed us to lead us back to our true identities. He tells us that if we believe in Him, acknowledge him as King, He is our Shepherd and we are His sheep who He calls each by name, and we respond because we know Him.

Therefore, God intended all along that we should be a community in which He dwells: a unity of unique individuals without losing the distinctions of the individuals--not an assimilation. This community is what Jesus called, the kingdom of heaven, and is both God’s intended purpose and the vehicle He chose in His Love and holiness to achieve His purposes. This community is God’s glory, and the topic of next week’s posting.