Stories | Theology | Pop Culture

Identity: How do I choose?

 

I am currently reading Mark Meynell’s “A Wilderness of Mirrors” book, which so far has been a fantastic read and I hope to write a review once I have finished the book.

In his book, Mark explores how society can trust once again when its currently ripe with cynicism and paranoia. There are lots of threads he follows, but there was one area that caught my attention which was entitled “Fragmented selves: A yearning for integration“, he says and quotes –

 

“As David Lyon has suggested, the big existential question facing individuals is no longer “How do I conform?” but “how do I choose?” But Lyon is not referring to material goods. Choices of clothing and taste are paltry by comparison. The real choice is one of personality and identity”.

The real choice is one of personality and identity:

This really struck me because we often hear that we are a consumer society, that we can choose whatever we want – where we live, what to watch, what to read, what to eat, what to buy, what to wear etc. But what about our identity?

It appears the question has shifted from:

 “Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

To the perplexing question of “How do I choose?” How do I choose who I am? How do I choose my identity? Because the choice seems endless; I can now be whoever I want.

Furthermore to help us along this journey we have a plethora of personality tests, self-help books, films and TV shows telling us all our options. It is a great puzzle that has left us yearning for an answer and I am not sure that we are totally satisfied with what is on offer.wildernessofmirrors

Consequently my next question is – does the christian story have a better answer?

Unsurprisingly, I think it does. And in the second part of Mark Meynell’s book he shows us how. But I know this story goes against the grain of our society because in many ways the gospel takes away all choice once you have accepted Christ. Which seems absurd because we are told that to have a choice is a good thing, maybe even our “right” in the western world. Yet some studies have also suggested too much choice is overwhelming:

“When you give people a lot of options, they can get bogged down and, at some level, become unwilling to consider anything because it just gets too complicated.” (http://www.futurity.org/choices-decisions-economics-851322/)

And that’s just for material things, perhaps it is the same when it comes to our identity? Maybe we get a bit confused and lost and just float about in a strange limbo of identity, flitting between whatever takes our whim that day. Maybe having less choice is a good thing?

So what about the Gospel story?

The good news is that at the very foundations you are given your new identity. The choice has been taken from you and instead it has been pronounced over you.

You are “in Christ” (1 Cor 1:30) and with that identity comes a host of riches; forgiven, free, child, righteous, saint, part of the bride of Christ and more found here.

You no longer have to choose or search for who you are. The world may offer you a hundred things for you to “be” today, but knowing that you are “in Christ” is enough.

And it isn’t a solitary place, being “in Christ” means being with a community of others who are in Christ as well, which we call the Church. It also means being invited to the community of the Trinity – being filled with the Spirit and having a restored relationship with the Father.

Therefore being “In Christ” is a better story because…

  1. The search is over. The confusion, the endless choices and wandering around the wilderness of DIY identity is all gone. You just need to accept and rest in Christ.
  2. Christ gives a better identity then anything on offer and he clothes you with it. In Christ you are loved and cherished not by your own performance but because of Him. He alone can satisfy.
  3. You join a community of people who have this same foundation of being in Christ and yet are all different, with different hobbies, interests and quirks.
  4. You join the divine community of the Trinity. Father, Son and Spirit invite you into the eternal communion. Feasting, delighting, enjoying our God.

I was built for infinite love from Someone who needs nothing in return, and for eternal impact through Someone whose purposes are supremely important. Only God can satisfy what my soul most deeply desires.” – Larry Crabb, Inside Out.

 



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