identity

shape up or ship out

informal•North American saying used as an ultimatum to someone to improve their performance or behaviour or face being made to leave.

Like it or lump it if one wants to be involved with other people then there are certain “rules” usually not published but that exist in the fine print.

I am not speaking about being involved with another individual person -but a group. And because I am a believer in Jesus I am specifically writing about church involvement.

Like any organised group there is always a leader who has the vision for the direction the group is going. The rest of the people attach themselves to the leader and his vision. They agree with the ideas presented and also with the vision.

To voice anything contrary to the ideas or the vision of that group goes against the whole idea of “group.”

When I came to Jesus I did not come from any religious background at all. I had a couple of born again friends trying to get me along to their group in the city of Perth. It was a Christian denomination Pentecostal in nature.

The first religious group I went to was a 4 day seminar by a visiting Evangelist held in a non church building where all sorts of Christian believers attended. The worship time of singing was Charismatic and I was blessed by the sweet loving anointing of Jesus embracing me and healing my tired soul.

There was no need for any commitment to a church at that conference. It was a time of being washed in a loving presence for 4 days surrounded by others who I didn’t really even want to know.

At that time in 1989 I was right in the middle of separating from my wife Margaret. We had been together 7 years(married 3)and had a 2 year old daughter. She wanted me out of her life and had found someone else. I found myself on my knees at home in the bedroom crying out to God for His help.

I did not know God or the Bible and did not have any church involvement. But God embraced me there in that bedroom on 20th April about 8pm in 1989. You can read an attempt at a partial autobiography HERE

After that initial euphoric experience with God, like a honeymoon, now began the nitty gritty of dealing with these “others” I was supposed to be involved with now I am a thing called a “Christian.”

You see, I didn’t want to become a “Christian”….all I wanted was “God”. And admittedly in the beginning the reason I thought I wanted God was so that He would help me be a success in life.

Of course the idea in my head of a being called God was someone all powerful out there who created everything and who must love me like a father would love his kids. Anyway the way I came to God seemed to involve people….and those people gathered together in large groups which they call church.

I had two Christian friends who were always trying to get me to come to their church in Perth–NOT INTERESTED!! was my reply. Now after being born anew, filled with the Spirit and having been to a loose non binding fellowship conference I realised I should go to this church thing.

I was nervous about going. But I went along after donning some appropriate “church clothes”. That was a suit and tie in 1989. I had purchased that suit for a network marketing business I was trying to make work. It was my “Hey look at me I am successful suit” even though inwardly I thought the opposite.

I was separated from my wife and 2 year old daughter whom I loved dearly and nothing I could do or say would change her mind and make her accept me again. She wanted a divorce, I wanted reconciliation.

Those two differences drove me to seek God more so that He would do a miracle and heal our marriage. I had no idea I was the one who needed healing big time…more than just from a broken marriage!

So the more I sought “God” and went to every meeting the more churchianity I learned outwardly. Now instead of trying to be successful in Amway network marketing I was trying to be a successful Christian. If my marriage was unsuccessful then by golly my walk with God was going to be successful!!

Lie: Self worth comes by being successful….which is really…

Self worth comes by getting others to think that you are successful.

Shame has always driven me with whips to try and try to get my identity and self worth from what other people think of me. So outer performance and clothing and demeanour etc are all adapted and adopted for each group I want to impress.

I was the surfing legend during my teens and twenties. I achieved great self image points and self worth ticks of approval from my peers with every wave I rode. The image of being a tanned, muscular surfer riding waves in dangerous locations brought me self worth and an identity which I learned to cultivate and groom.

Look at me!! Look at me!! is what surfing is all about…even more so these days with the rise of technology and social media. Now these young men(mostly)have their own Youtube channel with millions of “followers” who click the like button with every move the surfie makes. Some of those ‘likes’ are for the rippling muscles, some for the tanned waxed chest, some for perfect teeth and bright eyes that surfers all seem to have from being energised by the salt and sun like some solar battery.

Don’t get me wrong…I love surfing and appreciate the culture….but I also know what is going on. It is mostly idolatry. Simple as that. No surfer catches a wave and simply goes along the wall in a straight line…that would impress NO ONE! Nope…the aim is to impress others.

Why a person wants to impress others is the question that each person needs to answer. For one person it may be simply to give joy to the other by their performance. For another impressing others is all about their own self worth and sense of identity.

https://foundinhimcom.files.wordpress.com/2020/09/dscn9488.jpgWebster’s Collegiate Dictionary entry for impress the verb and the noun. 1936 5th Edition

You can see by the definitions above that the need to impress others is so as to stamp upon their mind your brand.…your manufactured identity which you want them to imagine about you…..not just about you, but you want them to connect the image you are portraying outwardly with who they think you are inwardly.

But when one of the sport industry’s favourite icons(idols) falls into some immoral behaviour all the sponsors pull their funding because their chosen image(stamp/brand) is now soiled and dirty and shown to be a facade hiding a broken shameful creature beneath.

With surfing, at least in the early years you could be a legend surfer type getting your self worth ticks of approval and also do drugs and fornicate and other immoral behaviours because that was the image that the whole group portrayed. So I fitted in with that nicely!

The horrible thing with all this and the danger of it is that we ourselves truly believe our own chosen delusion which we are trusting in for value and acceptance. So that when we cannot do the moves on the board anymore….because of age or sickness or whatever….we must find our self worth ticks and likes somewhere else. Thus we adapt our game to the next group.

This is how Facebook/instagram works…this is how the world system works.

The inner person shrivels as the outer is made to be our whole identity.

No one wants to know you…no one! They are only interested in your face, your body, your butt, your mind, your hair, your whatever it is that you are putting out there for tics and likes and to get followers.

It’s no different in the church system. The same idolatry goes on all the time.

So in order to get approval and self worth in the church and to make your outer performance in Christian things WHO you are, you must work the system to your advantage. When I say “your” I am speaking of this false self you are trying to find identity in.

This self you are working on is willing to do whatever it takes to win approval. In order to get that approval you will learn the system and accept pressure to agree, at least outwardly with all the doctrines and ideas presented by the main speaker or leader. You learn to say “amen amen” at the appropriate times in the sermons. You dress according to who you are trying to impress. You dress to fit in or you dress to rebel and thus fit in with this self image you have that says – “This is me.”

You attract those others who are believing your outer performance like a peacock spreading it’s feathers for the females–it’s all show baby!

And the reason you want others to believe you are worthy of their attention is because you have long believed the lie that the real you is a shameful little piece of dirt not worthy of anyone or anything!

The preacher says God loves you!! You hear…’No He doesn’t love the real me…He ‘loves’ the outer religious got it all together me’.

Ohhh botherrr!!

It is really a quagmire trying to extricate oneself from all this….but thanks be to God!!

The truth sets us free!!

God took all that outer delusion which you have thought was your identity and He put it to death on the cross. You died and now your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Yes yes…we know that don’t we? We can parrot it off. But are we still finding our identity in those old grave clothes, playing the same old games as before just now in a new sphere or group?

We can go from being a non-religious unbeliever finding our identity in that image…..thinking we are free. Then morph to a religious believer experiencing God’s love and kindness by His doing…..yet fall back to the old projected identity again. Once again trying to build something that others will worship and give us approval for.

Workaholics, straight A students, social influencers, models, celebs, Divas, hunks, surfies, bikers, soldiers, prophets, pastors, apostles, humble man of prayerrrr, skinny vegans, waif thin Gothic chic, porn stars and studs, politicians, gang members, drug lords, devoted servant of Christ, Doctor of theology, Doctor of you name it, Director of so and so company, president, treasurer, Lawyer, Football star, home maker, country girl, southern belle, intellectual, arty, gamer, bmx, skiing, diving, hang gliding, mountain climber, snake charmer, healer, evangelist, guitarist, on and on and on and on….!!!

All these things that people do…but sadly also find their outer identity in.

So who are you really if you are not the things you do?

Just saying you are a “child of God” is true and great….but again…who does that make you?

My son Joshua doesn’t go around all day feeling fuzzy and warm inside because he is my child. It helps to know it….but who is he separate from me? Does that idea even exist in reality….Is he separate from me?

So we have the individual and also the group. In order to fit in and stay in the group you must abide by certain rules. That is why I titled this “shape up or ship out” which is used as an ultimatum to someone to improve their performance or behaviour or face being made to leave.

I tend to lose sight of who I am inwardly having only ever glimpsed it and then gone back to the outer man to try to find that old feeling of worth. This always causes me to leave any group I get involved with. So I end up being alone again….and then longing to be in a group. Endless cycle.

Who am I? I need help! laughter and more laughter!!

I don’t have any dream of becoming anything great. All I want is to be able to fully accept myself as God accepts me.

Am I making any sense?

I know that deep within me is the real true me. And the real true me is Christ Himself. But how to abide in such a thing/place/thought and not to come back out to the outer is beyond me.

And so perhaps that is why the writer to the Hebrews said,

Heb 4:9  There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 

I know the theory of that rest….but it seems that it mostly stays simply that…theory. I revel in that theory for in preaching it, I gain followers and look like something…but hey…I am naked and exposed before you.

I am undone.

But all is well…and Father is with me doing all this as He is in you.

We are members in particular–each unique expressions of Him as us…but we are ALSO members of one another—each one interconnected with the other so that we are the body and full manifestation of Father revealed in the heavens and the earth.

I know that because He has written these things with me today…that tells me this is not just about me…but is what He is doing in all of us.

Straight after finishing writing this I opened my emails and the first email my eyes fell upon I began seeing words that are the obvious answer to what I have just written! I do not know the person having only just subscribed to his blog at random the other day. But there is no random in Father!

Please go to this blog post written by Kirk

https://notesfromthebridge.wordpress.com/2020/09/06/shared-life-is-not-optional-4/

“If all you do is have meetings and you never see one another or communicate and interact between gatherings…No matter how free and open your meetings might be …. I say you are falling WAY short of actually BEING the Church. Because true and authentic fellowship calls for deep, intimate, interconnection with one another. Even deeper connection than that of a natural family in my humble opinion.”

And obviously the problem I and many face is shame.

Over the years I have written on this topic out of my own battles with shame

https://found-in-him.com/2017/07/23/let-jesus-lift-you-up/

https://found-in-him.com/2016/01/05/the-lame-shall-leap-like-naphtali/

https://found-in-him.com/2018/02/25/you-the-lame-beggar-healed/

https://found-in-him.com/2018/02/27/more-on-healing-lameness/

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