(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Cue The Mic Drop
By Ben Courson
People are not your dictionary. They do not define you.
Others can PUT us down but they cannot TAKE us down. We need not ever live down to the negative opinions of others because they do not define our identity or destiny. Neuroscience is now telling us that negativity sticks to the brain like Velcro, but good news slips off the brain like lubricant. That’s why when nine people compliment your Instagram post and only one person says something mean, we can’t stop thinking about the one negative. That’s how your psychological constitution works. To assimilate good news or beauty we need to take 15 seconds to meditate on it for hope to become sticky. When it comes to our grey cells, neurological pathways, and cranial package, it takes longer to process encouragement.
So instead of being subsumed by social media’s frequently negative oppression, we should meditate on what’s lovely and noble and true and imbedded in the promises of God. So let me tell you what God thinks of you. This is your identity, fam. Drumroll please…
You are God’s masterpiece, his poiema, and his poetry in motion. You are imago dei, an image bearer of the divine, created in God’s reflections. You are a temple for the Holy Spirit, hosting the presence of God. You are seated in heavenly places – not the nosebleeds! You have a reserved box seat with Jesus on his throne. You are a king. You are a priest, speaking to God for the people and speaking to the people for God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, so don’t live fearfully as though you’re not made, as though you are some byproduct of fortuitous events. You are a jewel in the treasury of empyrean realms. You are a pearl of great price. You are the apple of His eye.
THAT’S who the Bible says you are.
But the enemy tries to make us question if we really are the highest form of God’s creation. In the old story, the sneaky serpent (who was very good at being very bad and the father of lies because lying was his native language) told Eve that the Lord didn’t want her to eat the forbidden fruit because if she did she would be like God. She failed to realize she was already like God! Genesis 1 says she was made in God’s LIKEness. That’s why God told people not to make graven images of Him…because He’d already made images of Himself: people. We see a guy walking a dog and we say, “Oh, how adorable! A puppy!” But God sees a guy walking a dog and he says, “Oh, how adorable! A human!” He says homo sapiens are made in his image so that makes us hope-o-sapiens!
You are so absurdly loved. The Old Testament says the sheep die for the sins of the shepherd. The New Testament says the shepherd dies for the sins of the sheep. The Old Testament says take off your shoes for this is holy ground. The New Testament says the father gives the prodigal son shoes for his feet because he’s now worthy to stand in his presence as a son. Jesus didn’t tear the veil to get us into the Presence. He tore the temple veil to get the Presence into us!
This ain’t the blues, this is gospel: the good news!
Do you want the good news first or the good news first?
According to brain scans, one of the chief things religion does for people is create in them a sense of identity. That’s why Jesus gave Peter his identity in Caesarea Phillipi. That was a town loaded with religious history: there was a marble temple glinting on the hillside devoted to the godhead of Caesar; there was a cave believed to be the birthplace of Pan, the Greek god of nature; there was a cavern out of which was believed to be the origin springs of the Jordan River which was chockfull of Judaism religiosity; and Caesarea Philippi was also a town that was once a great center for the SyroPhoenecian god of fertility: Baal. Against the backdrop of all the world religions – Rome and Greek and Jewish and Syrophoenecian worship – it was THERE that Jesus asked, “Who do men say that I am?” When Simon replied, “You are the Christ,” Jesus said, “You are Peter.” When Peter identified who Jesus was, he got his identity shift, from Simon (shifting sand) to Peter (the rock). He went from Sandy to Dwayne Johnson. Boom.
What you think about God is the most important thing about you, because research shows us you will mirror your theology. If you identity the Lord as a cruel despot, you’ll be grumpy Gus. But if you define him in Pauline dictation – i.e. as the God of hope, you’ll be a hope dealer, and hope is dope!
You’re not a carbon footprint, you are a force to be reckoned with! You’re not protons, you’re a pronoun! You’re not an orphan, you’re a child of the Most High!
THAT’S your identity.
Cue the mic drop.