The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Do You Act Like Who You Are?

Posted on: June 27, 2017

REFINE YOUR SELF IMAGE TO HELP REFINE YOUR BEHAVIOR

We will never outperform our self-image. Said another way, we will always act consistently with how we see ourselves. Much self-destructive behavior, much under-achievement, much misdirected activity can be linked to the fact that we have an inadequate understanding of who we really are.

If we think too little of ourselves, we will settle for less than the best. We think we don’t deserve it or can’t achieve it. If we think more highly of ourselves, we properly hold out for better, for more.

A faulty self-image is part of the “Invisible Rope Syndrome” that I talked about last week, in which our potential in life is often needlessly held back, not by external factors, but because of the lies we believe as a result of our faulty perception of reality.

So, few things are more helpful than cultivating an accurate perception of who we are, in God’s eyes.

Imagine you were born the child of the king and queen of a rich and powerful nation. You are royalty, ordained for greatness, destined for a throne. But… not long after your birth, you were kidnapped in the middle of the night by an evil pirate and spirited away to a far country across the ocean. There, you were sold as a slave to a dishonest merchant who dressed you in rags and forced you into a life of crime. You were so young that you soon forgot who you really were, and you took on the identity of a liar and thief.

However, you had a distinct birthmark on your left temple… a small red mark shaped somewhat like a crescent moon. The evil merchant told you it was a sign of the curse of the devil. Given your experience, you believed him. So many years passed that the king and queen, your father and mother, assumed you were dead.

Then, shortly after your tenth birthday, the king’s chief steward sailed to that faraway land to trade.   He brought a bag of gold with which to buy silk, spices, and exotic goods, and visited the seaside marketplace, which was a bustling hive of commerce and trade.

Lurking in a hidden corner of the large marketplace humming with row after row of vendors and hundreds of shoppers, you spy the steward’s bag of gold. Fingers itching for an opportunity to snatch it, you look up to find the steward’s eyes fixed on you. From that distance, you cannot tell that his sight is locked on the birthmark on your left temple

He stares hard, his mind racing, not yet daring to believe what he sees. That birthmark, so distinctive! The age, just right! Could it be? It must be!

Of course, you have no idea who he is or why his gaze is fixed on you. You turn cold at the scrutiny. Does he know your evil deeds? Is he plotting your arrest and imprisonment? You turn to dissolve into the crowd and run straight into the hands of the steward’s guards. They seize you, whisk you inconspicuously away to the ship, examine you from head to toe, ply you with questions, and – satisfied – set sail within the hour.

Safely at sea, they tell you who you really are… that you are the child of royalty, possessing great power and wealth, with a great future ahead of you. At first you cannot even process what they are saying. Then, having processed, you dare not believe. Suspicious and apprehensive, you await your fate, eventually alternating between cautious hope and dubious expectation.

The weeks of sailing end as the ship glides into the harbor. The news is sped to your mother and father, who are joyously overwhelmed with this impossible turn of events. They stand ready to restore you immediately to your position as crown prince. But you have been so twisted into another shape that you cannot fully embrace your good fortune. You do not even know them. You have never known love, so cannot give it or receive it.

You cautiously come to accept that this must all be true, that it is not the King and Queen who are deceiving you, but the thief who had been telling you lies all along in order to use you for his own purposes. And you want to change, to live according to who your really are, but how? Your whole life has been geared to simply stealing enough to eat and trying not to get a beating from the merchant. Now you have more than enough food, total freedom, and the respect and admiration of everyone you meet.

You have so many questions. What do you do with your time? How do you treat people? How do you act around royalty? What do you talk about? How do you stifle the impulse to pick everyone’s pocket?

Over time, you learn, by observation as well as by instruction from the king’s tutors, what your attitudes, values, and behavior should be. You begin to absorb the culture of the kingdom. You start to shed the memories of the past and dream of the future. It takes a long time, but finally your transformation is complete. At last you stand before your mother and father, every bit the child they wanted but feared they had lost… able to love and be loved, and able to play your role in serving the kingdom.

Of course, in this analogy, you are that child. You have been redeemed from a life of slavery to sin and death, and restored to your intended position as a son or daughter of royalty. And that is your task: to believe and accept who you are; to accept the help of the King’s tutors—the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and the church; to learn the lessons of royalty, and to allow the process to transform you so that you begin to act like who you really are.

This is not a quick and easy thing to do.  Just like the royal child in the analogy, at first we might have difficulty processing it.  Then, we might have difficulty accepting.  Then, even after we have processed it and accepted, it still takes time to grow into a mature understanding of its full implications in our lives.  But as this profound truth begins to take root in our thinking and bear fruit in our living, it can have a wonderful transforming influence.

In next week’s blog, we will look further into other lies we believe that needlessly hold us back from achieving our God-given, and God-intended, potential.  In addition, in coming weeks, we will be announcing a new web site that will make available additional resources that will be very helpful in guiding and accelerating spiritual growth.


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