WHO DEFINES WHO?
13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
All of my life I have grown up with things or moments that have defined me in one way or another. When I was younger, I was defined by my parents and who they were. Oh you are Colonel Wade's son. I know that you have an amazing legacy to live up to, he.... and the stories would continue to flow about how amazing my dad or my mom would be and how much they gave and what was now expected of me. I will be honest, I have spent my life trying to do all that I could to help live up to the world's definition of my parents and my family. When I got into high school, I had to live beyond the definition of my brother. Now, I need you to understand, he is my older brother and every time we moved it was a lot harder on him than it was on me. So I had to try my best to break out of the definition that my brother left in the minds of some of the teachers that he had had before I got to the high school. But the good part was that I had already allowed myself the opportunity to prove to each one of these teachers and to those adults that me and my brother and my parents were different people. Now, don't get me wrong it was an honor to carry the name and the legacy that my parents had created, but I always wanted to be defined by MY life and not theirs. I wanted to show that just because someone else had made good or poor decisions, I was a separate individual that had been surrounded by their foundations, but that I was also plotting my own course.
So this really does bring up a very interesting question, "Who or What defines us?" I fully believe that there are times that we are defined by our history and the lives of our names. But, I also believe that there is a time that we all have to step up and step out and allow others to see how we are able to redefine our situation, our circumstance and our future. For example, I was the first person in my family to graduate from a college or university. I was able to break the mold that many of my extended family members never had an opportunity to do in their lives. Second, I also was the first person in my family to graduate with a Masters
and Doctoral degree. See, sometimes, we become defined and boxed in by our situations. We feel as though there is no way for us to break outside of the boundaries that have been placed around us because of our "SITUATION". I just want to tell you that is the BIGGEST lie that we could EVER believe. I fully believe that we are able to do anything that God has called us to do. I walked through college, masters and a doctoral degree through the grace of God with no debt. I never had to borrow a dime, but God provided everything that I needed because I was faithful not to allow the world to define my circumstance, but allowed God to stretch my faith.
I believe that is exactly what Jesus is talking about in our scripture in Matthew today. Jesus in all of his majesty was able to come and show the world that God was ready to help people to redefine their lives. Jesus wants everyone to understand that we have to retrain our brains to see that we are not stuck in our situation or circumstance. Even if we have been trapped in sin or carried baggage throughout our lives, Jesus came in order that we may experience freedom in ways that we have NEVER imagined. We continue to think that everyone in the world knows everything about our story. And if they do or they don't, the coolest part is that Jesus has the power to completely DEFINE us in a completely new way. I need you to walk with me for a second. Look at some of the people that God was able to use to change the world. This is from a video that I have seen before called the "March of the Unqualified". Listen to some of the early leaders of the faith and tell me if God was not able to REDEFINE their lives to change the world. Moses was not a great speaker, stuttered and actually killed a guard. Jonah ran from God and Jacob was a liar. Noah got drunk, Rahab was a prostitute, and David had an affair. Jeremiah was depressed, Solomon was rich in wisdom but poor in lifestyle. John the Baptist was just plain poor. Timothy was too young and Abraham was too old. Lazarus was dead... yes D E A D, dead. Sarah was barren and Naomi was a widow. Gideon and Thomas both doubted as did Sarah. Peter lacked self-control, James and John were self-righteous, and Paul had a short fuse, as did Peter and Moses. So if you think that God is only coming to seek and find the perfect, then hopefully you can see the power of God's Word today.
We must all realize that we were ALL born into sin, but more importantly, we make the choice that our sins don't define us. Even if we continue to falter, we must realize that Jesus came to find and save the lost. Jesus whole point was to come and be a restitution for our sins. He came not to condemn but to save and redefine our lives. I think that is where so many of us continue to fail. We feel as though God cannot use our lives, our stories because we are just too messed up. But what I am saying is that we are all unique and every part of our story in an opportunity for God to redefine someone else's life. God has walked with us through these situations in hopes of helping someone else who is going through some of the same situations and they need someone to help them step out of their circumstance. So STOP allowing the world or our current sin filled context define us. God can and will use ANYONE who is willing to redefine their lives by giving up and letting Jesus come in and renovate. But see that is the key. We have to let go and let GOD. We cannot have one foot in the world and one foot with God. It does not work that way. We have to be willing to say I am ready to step out and follow Jesus with EVERYTHING! I know that it may take a little time to get there, but it's ok that's why Jesus came in the first place. Jesus came to experience the hardness of the world and the difficulty of the sin and show us that through HIM we can be restored and NOW be defined by the blood of Christ.
It's not going to be easy, but anything that really matters to us is never easy. It may take us taking baby steps or even crawling before we can see any opportunity to change, but moving in the right direction is what matters the most. Sometimes that will be forward,
sometimes that may mean moving backwards, and sometimes that may even mean that we just have to stay put for a little while until we are ready to take the next steps. The first thing is to realize that the ONLY way that things will change is when we allow GOD to DEFINE our steps and open and close the doors. Then the whole picture changes and our situations
become part of the transforming power of God's story in our lives. We are ONLY defined by our circumstances, if we give authority to the circumstance to define us. God continues to provide hope for those who are lost to be found through the mercy of the cross. So who defines us? Does the world define us... our situation... our place in society... or are we defined by our testimony? Are we defined by the trials and temptations that we were able to overcome only through the power of Jesus? I don't know about you, but I know I have a name that was given to me by my parents, and I know that name has brought both good and bad decisions into this world throughout the years. But the day I finally laid it all down, I no longer carried that burden, but was redefined and washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb who continues to define my life every day.