Have you ever noticed, how much western culture is obsessed with Work and Success?
This becomes visible quickly, when we are asked who we are. In a typical western mindset such as my own (German), we are accustomed to identify ourselves by giving our name and occupation, which shows we derive meaning and identity from what we do.
Persons with a non-western mindset, such as Native Americans, Polynesians and people of tribal history in general usually identify themselves by stating their name and family background. Who they come from, their parents, grand parents, their clan and tribal membership identify who they are.
Now to be sure, what we do is not unimportant in either cultural background but it seems to me that we have put the cart before the horse. We try to do before we really know who we are.
The parallels to a Christian’s life are stunning. Often we are trying to identify ourselves by the works we do instead of whose we are.
Our identity as Christians must be rooted in Christ! We become part of Christ’s family by entrusting our lives completely to him, by believing in what he said and did. The works we do as Christians should be our joyful response to the grace we have received from our master and teacher Jesus-but the works are not who we are.
In Luke chapter 10 we read about the disciples coming back from an assignment bursting with a sense of fulfillment and victory. They had seen people healed and set free from bondages, but Jesus encouraged them not to rejoice in their accomplished works but in the fact that their names are recorded in heaven.
Our identity needs to be rooted in the fact that we are members of Christ’s family! Only then will we be really free to do the works of Him who sent us.
© 1999 Volkhard Graf, YWAM Native Ministries
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