Free to be???

Scripture: Romans 8:26-29 (New Century Version)

Also, the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain. God can see what is in people's hearts. And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way God wants. We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan. God knew them before he made the world, and he chose them to be like his Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of many brothers and sisters.


I don’t know about you but I grew up watching Sesame Street. One of the major themes you hear on the show is how important it is to be ourselves. “Be happy with who you are. Celebrate you. Learn to love yourself.” In a society that takes its cues from Hollywood’s obsession with cosmetic surgery, I can understand the need to show people why they should learn how to be comfortable in their own skin.  A healthy self-esteem is important, after all. But I wonder if we’ve gone too far in that direction? How do we balance personal contentment with self-improvement or the idea of total depravity with Christian perfection? As with many Christian teachings, there’s a balance to be found.

The church has done a good job of telling people they’re broken– “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” (Romans 3:23) What the church could do better is proclaim the good news that it isn’t necessary to remain broken. Somewhere somebody has gotten a lot of mileage out of propagating the idea that most of our flaws are permanent. Consider the workplace– how many of us have allowed ourselves to be pigeon-holed into certain work and management styles because we took a company-sponsored personality test? For example, according to the Myers-Briggs® Type Indicator, I’m an INTP. That means I’m an introvert (not extravert), intuitive (as opposed to sensing), a thinker (more than a feeler) and perceiving (versus judging). The problem with these kinds of labels is there is a temptation to accept our weaknesses as part of who we are rather than trying to improve.


Think about these conversations you hear from children.
I’m not a reader.”
Then learn to be.
I’m not cut out for school.
If you want to make a good living, then you better figure out how to be.
I can’t apologize… it’s not who I am.”
So stretch yourself.
I always hurt the people I care about because I don’t want to be hurt first. I can’t change that. It’s who I am.”
No you probably can’t change it. But if you think God can’t change it, then your God isn’t big enough.
I’m sure you have had these or similar conversations and then some. We mean well when we tell people to be themselves, but in the real world, lots of us are using that cliché as an excuse to stay in our current condition. Certainly, we should never try to be someone else– but we also shouldn’t try to be who we are now. The Bible speaks of us being “conformed to the image of God’s son.” The goal then is to be the person God intends for us to be. Mark Twain once said, “‘Be yourself’ is about the worst advice you can give to people.” Perhaps he was right.


It is not so important that I be successful,
     but that I be faithful, that I belong to you,
     that I represent and glorify you.
It is important, 0 God,
    that I allow you to have your way in and through me.
So be it, Lord.