Picture from Small Rain illustrated by Elizabeth Orton Jones
Jesus came to announce to us that an identity based on success, popularity, and power is a false identity—an illusion! Loudly and clearly he says: “You are not what the world makes you; but you are children of God.”
Nouwen, Henri J. M.. Here and Now: Living in the Spirit (p. 163). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.
I often preach that Jesus did not have an identity crisis. He knew who He was, had a clarity of mission and eternal future. There are so many pressures and options through today’s society that identity, mission and eternal future may become blurred. It’s in the midst of disorder and confusion that Satan disorientates. Our relatively high standard of living may deliver too many options. At one point in history clothes were made to protect a person from the environment. Now clothing is chosen to boost our image of who we want to portray! Even kitchen utensils come in colors to develop image. Car choices are often picked as a perception of radiating one’s personality. While we, as a society, focus on self and perceptions, our closets… and our minds may be the victim of clutter. Clutter is stuff that gets in the way, obscuring what we really need. I believe that God wants us to de-clutter many of this society’s leading. Rather, like Jesus, our identity as God kids is a gift freely given from God our Father. As we live with the identity of God’s children, we (like Jesus) become firm in who we are, our mission and our eternal future. For those who love God this is Good News!!!
Gracious God, we thank you for each other. Learning about You and Your kingdom is our passion. We have shared this portion of our journey and experience together. With a heart filled with gratitude, we thank you for Your revelations delivered through this study. Help us to know who we are, Your kids, and empower us to develop in ways that prepare us for Your eternal love while we share Your Good News with others. Amen!
Please ask yourselves these reflective questions! I hope these questions haven’t become so routine that they are glossed over. This is the last chapter and Henri Nouwen really concluded in a way that exemplified the whole book. He meant this book to be a beginning! I invite you to write your answers to the routine questions, not only reflecting on this chapter but the entire book.
Is there any one idea that really reached me?
What is God revealing about Himself in this reading?
What is God revealing about me in this reading?
Where was the “bottle neck” in my past that kept me from realizing God to His fullest?
Was it a person, or maybe an event? Could it have even been me?
Upon realization, ask God for healing and an example of His perfect love.
What can I recognize, or handle differently to increase “flow” in my Spiritual life?
Where am I “bottle necked” now in my relationship with God?
Please consider these specific questions:
I mentioned that Jesus did not have an identity crisis. What one word adjectives would you use to describe Jesus?
In the 1960’s, many people wandered around trying to “find themselves”. What does it mean to You to be a child of God?
What are the inherent benefits?
How does clinging to this basic identity help you to decipher the “clutter of the world” from the Glory of God’s Kingdom?
What are the dangers of becoming like a “reed in the wind” being swayed through anything from a breeze to a storm?
Picture an average day in the world, the glory and the messes. Now picture a day in heaven. What are the similarities? What are the differences?
Finally, the last reflective question for the entire book… God’s kingdom is here and now. He is in our presence on our good days and our bad ones. I believe we tend to compartmentalize our time with God. Sunday morning worship, prayers before meals or sleep may be examples. What if we looked at life the other way around? What does our life look like with God in our Here and Now?