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On Saturdays, I’m going to start writing my thoughts on sermons I hear. Today’s entry was inspired by Craig Pierce’s sermon given at Irving Bible Church titled “When Work Becomes About Me.”

Lean in.

Closer.

I want to tell you a secret.

I…

…um…

…realize the power of image.

I’m pretty quick to point out my paternal family lineage’s blue collar heritage. The image of my father putting on his steel-toed boots, safety glasses and hard hat to go to the steel mill still holds my deep affections and I’ll highlight that reality at any opportunity. Not so quick to remind you that my maternal family’s lineage is littered with college grads and high achievers and creature comforts. I’d prefer you think of me blue-collar.

I’m pretty quick to highlight my punk/alternative/fringe mindset. There’s a certain amount of honesty in that one. I do find myself strangely at home with the outsiders…but that isn’t the entire story. I mean, it isn’t like I was from a working class neighborhood in London fighting the system or socially ostracized from the mainstream with an axe to grind against all of society. The truth is that I had a positive high school experience (even if it was more B-list) with friends and sports and girls and was in a fraternity in college. I was a suburban kid with a latent anger streak that needed an outlet and punk gave it to me. The image of an angsty suburbanite is pretty common really.

I’m pretty quick to highlight a combination of those images into my pastor’s role. So much of what we believe is counter to the tide of culture at-large as well as our suburban American Christian subculture…and that blue-collar/fringe mindset is a reminder to those I serve to measure all those adjectives against the truth of Scripture:

Suburban.
American.
Subculture.

That blue-collar/fringe mindset is a powerful tool in helping people think…even if the truth is that I have a seminary degree and have lived all my life both in and of…

…the suburbs.
…America.
…the church subculture.

I’m pretty quick to highlight those wins in my life that will let you see I’m a dad who’s trying to be good in that role. Or a husband who is trying to get it right. A good student. A good pastor. Even a good pet owner. Whatever it takes to guard that image…on Facebook or Twitter or Instragram or even in we were right there in-person having a chat. Just the fact that I’m a part of those social media outlets to that extent infers that a certain amount of image is controlled by what I choose to put on them.

Why do I do this?

My guess is that at some deep level I want approval of those I rub shoulders with every day. I want you to think I matter…or at least am doing good things for the right reasons. I want to love and be loved without conditions and well…

…if I don’t want to shine the flashlight around in my own personal closet of insecurities I certainly don’t want your flashlight shining in there and discovering them for yourself. The dominoes that would fall over personally and professionally if that were to ever happen? This is why I guard anyone hitting that first one, kids.

I want to know and be known. I don’t want to be a world orphan or abandoned puppy, without a family to be a part of and love to experience. So, the more I guard my image, the better my chances of being included. The better my chances of being accepted. The better my chances of being, well, liked.

So it was nice to have a reminder from Craig Pierce in the sermon from a couple of weeks ago when he said:

An identity is not something you can achieve. An identity is something you receive from the Lord Jesus. An identity is not found in a position. It’s found in a Person. You already have the approval of the only one who matters. You are significant in the eyes of your Heavenly Father, and your security is rooted in His love and in the acceptance of the God of the universe. And you’re out there trying to make a name for yourself? He’s already given you a name. You’re His child.

All too often the other images I want you to see take priority over the deepest one.

I am a child of the King of King and Lord of Lords.
He has given me a name written in the Book of Life which cannot be erased.
My insecurities have already been exposed by His Light, and the dominoes never were standing before Him.
I am already included in His family with full-fledged adoption papers already signed & sealed.
I am already accepted, warts and all.
I am far beyond liked…

…I am loved.

All of those realities are easy to list. I’m pretty sure I could pass an essay test if one were given on those.

Lean in.

Closer.

I want to tell you another secret:

It’s easier to say those realities than it is to live them out day-to-day, minute-by-minute, year-in and year-out. But if we are able to live those out, our Kingdom influence in the day-to-day, minute-by-minute, year-in year-out shoulder-rubbing will lead more folks to that freedom in Him than all our imagery ever will.

Resolved: Walk in my true identity rather than my image.