Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mission > Identity

When you sign a letter or an email, the closing line is often a brief but telling summary of the content.

When I sign off with
...I am usually writing to a family member or close friend. "Sincerely, Stephanie" is more formal, and "Thanks so much, Stephanie" indicates a note of appreciation or requesting a favor.

My box of wedding letters
Yet when I read through Paul's letters written to the early church, I tend to skip over his greeting to get to the heart of his words. This time, as I read through Colossians with my She Reads Truth study, we intentionally paused at the first verse of Paul's book: "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace and peace from God our Father."

In this greeting, Paul announces who he is and who he is writing to - much like our salutations and closings in our letters. He defines himself as an apostle, one sent by God for a mission. His conviction and boldness in this calling made me think, How do I define myself? 

How we define our identity is obviously important because we act out of who we are. Yet so often we take on identities without pausing to assess whether we want to define ourselves this way.

For instance, in the book Creative Nonfiction, author Philip Gerard discusses the importance of defining yourself as a writer without any qualifiers. He points out that before you can be a writer, you must believe you are one. Writers recognize the moment when this happens because "their ambition for the writing becomes more important than their ambition to become writers."

Excerpt from Creative Nonfiction
In other words, it is how Paul begins his letter: I am an apostle sent on a mission because of God's will. His ambition for his mission becomes more important than his identity. In other words, his identity is God's plan for his life.

The problem with the world's notion of "finding yourself" is that it continually points to you. Paul shows us that our true identity must point to Christ. Yes, each of us has a high calling on earth. But this confidence is not because we are so grand as to deserve to make a difference but because we serve a King who mightily works through us.

An excerpt from the She Reads Truth Colossians study.
Be still today and let Christ work through you.


  1. It's like that story about the woman who, when asked what she does, replies: "I'm a servant of God, disguised as a seamstress." Great post!

    1. Great reminder of that story! Thanks for stopping by :)